A man who was born in Philadelphia is suing a Florida sheriff’s office, accusing them of nearly deporting him to Jamaica following a probation violation.
According to a federal lawsuit, Paul Sean Brown, 50, turned himself into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in April after testing positive to marijuana. What followed was a series of complaints officers allegedly ignored—and even mocked—as Brown’s deportation loomed.
A day after submitting his fingerprints, Brown said ICE sent a form requesting his deportation. A form reportedly given to him stated that he was being kicked out the country for “biometric information.” The lawsuit noted that the deportation form was filed despite the fact that Brown had a Florida driver’s license—something he only could’ve obtained if he was a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen who was legally in the country.
An officer allegedly said, “everything’s gonna be alright” in a Jamaican accent as Brown tried to explain he was a U.S. citizen. According to Brown also told officers that he was born in Philadelphia, leading one guard to rap the entire intro of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” where Will Smith raps about being “born and raised” in Philadelphia.
Brown has never lived in Jamaica and didn’t know anyone who lives there, according to the lawsuit. He reportedly spent three weeks in police custody before he was transported to the Krome immigration detention center in Miami.
“After confirming that Mr. Brown was a U.S. citizen, ICE hastily arranged for his release from Krome,” the suit stated, adding that the release occurred after Brown’s roommate sent his birth certificate to the agency. “Before he left, they confiscated all the documents they had given him regarding his impending deportation.”
The suit noted that, 20 years earlier, the legacy agency to ICE mistakenly arrested him in New Jersey only to release him upon learning he was a U.S. citizen.
The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and California-based law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher filed the lawsuit on Brown’s behalf. The lawsuit lists Richard A. Ramsay, of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, as a defendant. It’s unclear why ICE isn’t listed as a defendant in the federal lawsuit.
“I would never have expected it in a million years that this would happen, and I can tell you it’s not a good feeling,” Brown said in the ACLU’s video. “There has to be a stop at some point—before it becomes all of us.”
[Featured image: Paul Sean Brown/ACLU Youtube video screengrab]