Demetry Furman is probably not who the Trump administration had in mind when it sold the notion of “secure borders” to voters.
Furman, a former Canadian army captain, served in Afghanistan alongside American troops, and says he even achieved “top-level security clearance,” according to the Guardian. The 47-year-old’s work included stints alongside the CIA and the DEA. For good measure, his wife, Cynthia Furman, even worked as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
But as the Globe and Mail detailed last week, none of that mattered to the current administration, or to those working at Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE). ICE held the former artillery captain for months, due to a decades-old marijuana conviction — a conviction that had already been pardoned by the Canadian government.
Even with Furman’s background, and the fact that he’s married to an American citizen, ICE agents seized Furman after he tried to register a truck in Ohio. Finally, after increased media scrutiny, American authorities released the Canadian citizen, driving him to Windsor, Ontario, where he met his wife for the first time in almost three months.
Furman’s difficulties were compounded by the fact that Canadian officials in Detroit reportedly did not answer Furman’s numerous phone calls. According to the Globe and Mail:
Global Affairs Canada said in an e-mail on Tuesday that Canada cannot intervene on behalf of Canadians citizens who do not meet the entry or exit requirements of the United States or any other country, and that a pardon for an offence issued by Canada is not recognized by the United States.
Furman’s conviction stemmed from a failed attempt in 1992 to sell marijuana to an undercover police officer. Canada, which legalized marijuana earlier this month, eventually pardoned Furman — a pardon that apparently did little to dissuade ICE from believing Furman to be some type of criminal who deserved to be held for months behind bars. To ICE, which made sure Furman was held in a maximum security prison, Furman was a drug dealer.
The incarceration is the latest travesty behind the Trump administration’s immigration policy. From breaking up military families to child separation to threats of military intervention, the administration’s zero tolerance policies have already caught numerous innocent immigrants in its dragnet.
Furman is the latest victim of such a policy — but he likely won’t be the last. “I feel betrayed. It’s a slap in the face because when I was in Afghanistan no one cared what flag was on my shoulder,” Furman told the Guardian.