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Marine vet held by ICE for possible deportation is U.S. citizen, lawyer says

A Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder was held for three days for possible deportation before federal authorities learned the 27-year-old is a U.S. citizen born in Michigan, lawyers said Wednesday. Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was a lance corporal in the Marines and received awards for service in Afghanistan. 

"He was decorated with a national defense service medal, a global war on terrorism service medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal, and a combat action ribbon, among other awards," the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said Wednesday in a statement.

"Why did they think he was a non-citizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows," ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman said. "This is an individual who's incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness."   

Ramos-Gomez had been in the Kent County jail after being accused of trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at a Grand Rapids hospital on November 21. The ACLU said his PTSD had a role in the disturbance.

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Jilmar Ramos-Gomez  American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan

He pleaded guilty and was supposed to be released on December 14 while awaiting a sentence, according to the ACLU. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contacted the jail and requested that Ramos-Gomez be held for pickup.

"Once he was released from our custody, he was under the domain of ICE. Where they take him is their process," Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt said. "Our procedures were followed."

DeWitt said he didn't know whether Ramos-Gomez protested when immigration officers picked him up. He was driven 70 miles to a detention center in Battle Creek and released after three days, after lawyer Richard Kessler contacted ICE on behalf of the man's family. 

There was no immediate comment from ICE. Spokesman Khaalid Walls in Detroit said he couldn't respond to media inquiries because of the partial government shutdown

The ACLU said it is "outraged" and demanded the Kent County sheriff immediately investigate. Aukerman called Ramos-Gomez' treatment "appalling."

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