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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They get the award for the following.

FLORENCE, Ariz. -- Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

On Thursday, Warziniack finally became a free man. Immigration officials released him after his family, who learned about his predicament from McClatchy, produced a birth certificate and after a U.S. senator demanded his release.

"The immigration agents told me they never make mistakes," Warziniack said in an earlier phone interview from jail. "All I know is that somebody dropped the ball."

The story of how immigration officials decided that a small-town drifter with a Southern accent was an illegal Russian immigrant illustrates how the federal government mistakenly detains and sometimes deports American citizens.

U.S. citizens who are mistakenly jailed by immigration authorities can get caught up in a nightmarish bureaucratic tangle in which they're simply not believed.

An unpublished study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, in 2006 identified 125 people in immigration detention centers across the nation who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.

Vera initially focused on six facilities where most of the cases surfaced. The organization later broadened its analysis to 12 sites and plans to track the outcome of all cases involving citizens.

Nina Siulc, the lead researcher, said she thinks that many more American citizens probably are being erroneously detained or deported every year because her assessment looked at only a small number of those in custody. Each year, about 280,000 people are held on immigration violations at 15 federal detention centers and more than 400 state and local contract facilities nationwide.

A US citizen spends 40 weeks in immigration detention. How many US citizens have been deported besides Jose Guzman? If its one you should be outraged, because none of us are safe if you get picked up by this agency. Read this statement.

"The burden of proof is on the individual to show they're legally entitled to be in the United States," said ICE spokeswoman Kice.

ICE doesn't believe in innocent till proven guilty. We all should be very afraid. Reading this story, and the way conducts itself, there has to be more than one US citizen who has been deported.

Update- Kice is the same spokesperson who defended ICE in the matter of Jose Guzman.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the federal immigration agency, said it "had no reason to believe that it improperly removed" Mr. Guzman.

A lawless system with few or no safeguards. There are people out there who either will ignore news like this, or make excuses for ICE all in their craze to rid this country of illegal aliens. Sorry there is no excusing a government agency that is out of control. ICE has proved itself to be just that. That's why they are again Today's Knucklehead of the Day.


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Comments (17)

There are people out the... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

There are people out there who either will ignore news like this, or make excuses for ICE all in their craze to rid this country of illegal aliens.

Heh. The very few modest, common sense changes that have been implemented re: illegal aliens hardly qualify for the derogatory 'craze' description. Mostly there's been some talk, but not much action.

That said, if ICE broke the law they should be punished to the full extent of the law. No legal citizen should be put through this, ever. Unless there is more to this story, someone(s) from ICE should be fired and in jail. (Whoops! Am I now in a 'craze' to have us rid of criminal ICE agents?)

I know! Lets all begin car... (Below threshold)

I know! Lets all begin carrying our birth certificates as a second form of ID.


This should have never happened to this poor guy.

Perfection is the enemy of ... (Below threshold)

Perfection is the enemy of good ...

In Utopia nothing is good, everything is perfect :)

As far as your assertion th... (Below threshold)

As far as your assertion that an American citizen "must" have been deported ... find one, then write that sentence ... until then ... well, just report what did happen ...

As always the critic of the government shows just how smart they are and how stupid the other person is.

I mean are you really "shocked" that a huge government bureaucratic machine makes mistakes every day, sometimes seeming very stupid ones ?

Just wait until they are in charge of your health care ... then their screw-ups get to kill people ...

Tip o' the iceberg . . . ju... (Below threshold)

Tip o' the iceberg . . . just wait until the new "REAL ID" gets implemented. In the small trials in California, it came in with 90% accuracy.

That meant the system's judgment on one employee or job applicant in ten was incorrect. One in ten.

Considering this thing is going to be used, in effect, as an internal passport, it hardly inspires confidence. The government is going to bring all the accuracy and expertise that made the "I-9" form such a rousing success, but with expanded "enforcement" powers (translation: the power to arrest without charge and hold indefinitely or deport).

As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for . . . "

There are numerous safeguar... (Below threshold)

There are numerous safeguards in place for situations like that - they have happened before. If ICE managed to jump through all of those hurdles and not one Agent, Immigration Judge, or anyone else said "Hey, let's see this guy's birth certificate", that IS somewhat scary.

Unless he's one of those people who feel that his word should be taken because he says he's a U.S. citizen, I'll note that many people who are not citizens make that claim and are caught each day. If you can say it, you should be able to back it up, which apparently this guy was.

BPG,There isn't a ... (Below threshold)


There isn't a centralized list of people who been naturalized. If one is picked up by Immigration and says they are a naturalized citizen, ICE can't just call up a list, and if the person doesn't have their certificate or passport on their person(copying a naturalization certificate if you read what it says literally on one corner "IT IS PUNISHABLE BY U.S. LAW TO COPY, PRINT, OR PHOTOGRAPH THIS CERTIFICATE, WITHOUT LAWFUL AUTHORITY.", isn't allowed
), they can be out of luck.

Here's a doozy of an instance of the govt deporting a naturalized US citizen


Mr. Perez was arrested and convicted of trying to re-enter the US after a lawful deportation. Once it was discovered he was a US citizen, Perez's attorney tried to get the conviction vacated. The US government opposed it!

The US immigration system is upside down.

Since when are these jokers... (Below threshold)

Since when are these jokers in a "craze" to deport illegal aliens?

Dom you know what you are t... (Below threshold)
Glenn B:

Dom you know what you are talking about herein? When you say things like this, and use quotes like the accompanying one:

""The burden of proof is on the individual to show they're legally entitled to be in the United States," said ICE spokeswoman Kice.
ICE doesn't believe in innocent till proven guilty."

"We all should be very afraid."

First of all the bruden of proof of citizenship does not fall on the person stopped by CBP or ICE within the country if they were not seen crossing the border. The burden of proof of citizenship does however fall upon anyone seeking to make entry into the USA. Innocent until proven guilty has nothing to do with that or don't you get it? Anyone could come to thebborder say US CEEEETY SENOR and be allowed in, is that what you want.

Now of course, if a person is stopped within the borders of the USA witthout having just been seen entering, or not at the finctional equivalent of the border, then the proof burden falls on the government. An ICE Agent cannot walk up to just anyone, demand proof of citizenship, then arest the person and say the burden of proof is with the suspect. I know this for a fact, I do it for a living.

You know, cops make mistake... (Below threshold)

You know, cops make mistakes, doctors make mistakes and this one by ICE is certainly a doozy.

Fix the mistakes, change policy so no one with actual paperwork stays in detention for more than 72 hours (in criminal courts, charges have to be filed within 72 hours or an incustody person is released). However, we not only need ICE but we need a more responsive ICE..and that is in processing illegals and getting them deported in a timely manner.

Glenn,you write-</... (Below threshold)


you write-

"An ICE Agent cannot walk up to just anyone, demand proof of citizenship, then arest the person and say the burden of proof is with the suspect. I know this for a fact, I do it for a living."

Funny we had a case of a bus carry illegal alien farmworkers down here. They were in a auto accident. The police turned them all over to ICE.

Don't tell me people can't be picked up doing every day activities. Its bullshit.


Sounds like a lot of wishfu... (Below threshold)

Sounds like a lot of wishful extrapolation on the original article writer's part.

What appears in the scant information above includes that this was a vagrant or homeless person and one who might have appreciated 3 hots and a cot for a while at anyone's expense. But who knows the real story?

Perhaps someone at Vera Institute. Like their regional representative to Altus, Monica Thornton (She received her BA from Smith College and her JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. As a native of Mexico, Monica is fluent in Spanish).

And this is the group that'... (Below threshold)

And this is the group that's supposed to clear all the Mexican illegals in a grand, new "worker visa" progam? Dear Lord.

Bill, you have no idea what... (Below threshold)

Bill, you have no idea what you're speaking about. Might be time to be quiet.

I'd write lot's here but i'm actually on vacation and typing on a lousy laptop but i'll correct some of your errors.

1) The burden of proof is on folks who are making entry into the country, not folks already present in the United States.

2) Yes, there is a central database system for folks who have been naturalized, it's called CIS or the Central Index System, I use it every day.

3) U.S. Citizen might get turned around at the border from time to time (I'm sure its very rare) but deported?

Ive worked for the INS (Now called CBP under DHS) for almost 12 years. First thing I learned when I got the job? You can let in illegals all day long and you'll never get in trouble, you turn around just one U.S. Citizen and you'll get fired.

That's what everyone told me when I first started on the job. They drill that into you. Any guesses why we have such a problem with illegals in this country, folks?

Expect as we crack down more and more on illegal immigration to hear more sob stories like this folks. As big a beuracracy that the DHS is, mistakes are going to happen and the media is going to play up these sob stories in order to stop the crack down on illegals.

Just like they do with innocent folks and the death penalty. Its sad that innocent folks get put to death but I still support the death penalty.

Don't let saps like Bill lead you down the wrong path. We need stronger border enforcement even if it means a few U.S. citizens get caught up in the system from time to time.

Bill "Open Borders" Jempty ... (Below threshold)

Bill "Open Borders" Jempty is the only "craze" being shown here. Trully a fool for his foolish comments and his obvious spinless stance on such things as sovereignty, borders, nationhood.

Jempty = internationalist. Out of touch with 75 % of the American people who favor enforcing the law on illegal aliens.

Hey Bill, what part of "illegal" don't you understand?

I couldn't stop laughing. Y... (Below threshold)

I couldn't stop laughing. You quote "The Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization" to indict ICE of wrong doing on a grander scale then just one hobo being locked up. Suggestion when ever you read the words New York and Organization together you can safely assume it means Left Wing Wackos.

Sorry but I just can't just... (Below threshold)

Sorry but I just can't just let this one go. "Nina Siulc, the lead researcher, said she thinks" will wounders never cease, a Left Wing Wacko that thinks. No proof, but she thinks it's so there fore it is so.






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