Court House News reports that Hans Joachim Keil, a U.S. citizen and Samoan diplomat, was wrongfully arrested by US immigration authorities who thought he was an “illegal alien” and incarcerated for nine days.
Keil alleges that immigration agents confiscated his valid U.S. and Samoan Diplomatic passports and questioned him without providing legal counsel. Keil claims that he was charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen and is seeking punitive damages for “constitutional violations, unlawfully imprisonment, pain and suffering, emotional and mental duress, and for being denied permission to leave Missouri for 4 months to tend to his diplomatic duties.”
Keil isn’t the first U.S. citizen to get tangled up in the nation’s broken immigration system. In June, U.S. citizen Irving Palomo was detained and put in a van headed for Mexico due to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) mix-up. Diane Williams, a U.S. citizen of Caucasian and Native American descent, was recently deported to Honduras due to a mistake made by ICE officials. Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen who suffers from a mild mental disorder, was deported to Mexico. Mexican officials then deported him to Honduras, and Honduras deported him to Guatemala. After spending four months in Latin American prisons and homeless shelters, Atlanta airport officials tried to deport Lyttle again on his way back to his home in North Carolina.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conservatively estimates that approximately 100 U.S. citizens are accidentally ensnared by the country’s broken immigration system each year.
The charges against Keil were immediately dropped when the Department of State acknowledged he was a citizen.