May 6, 2009

Oops! Another accidental deportation

Getting arrested, even on a minor charge, can be hazardous in unexpected ways. Especially if you are mentally impaired and have brown skin and/or a Latino surname.

Remember Pedro Guzman, the cognitively handicapped Los Angeles man who was arrested on a minor trespassing charge and accidentally deported to Mexico, where he disappeared for months?

Now, it's happened again.

This time, a North Carolina native who speaks not a word of Spanish ended up on a cross-national odyssey after ICE scooped him up from a local county jail and shipped him off to Mexico. Perhaps fortunately, what with the swine flu and all, Mexico quickly deported him to the Honduras, which deported him to Guatemala. In all, Mark Lyttle bounced among Latin American prisons and homeless shelters for four months before the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala finally confirmed his U.S. citizenship.

Lyttle is mentally retarded and mentally ill. Although his surname does not hint at a Mexican nationality, he has dark skin, thanks to the Puerto Rican ancestry of his birth father. ICE claims Lyttle falsely identified himself as a native of Mexico, a claim Lyttle adamantly denies.

And just as Lyttle was finally making his way home again, you'll never guess what happened: immigration officials at the Atlanta airport tried to deport him yet again!

The Raleigh News & Observer has the story HERE. My blog posts on the 2007 case of Pedro Guzman are HERE.

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