American citizen gets deported, stuck outside US for months

October 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

from Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Mark Lyttle’s troubles began when he was misidentified as an illegal immigrant in 2008 while serving a 100-day sentence at a North Carolina prison. He was there on a misdemeanor assault charge for inappropriately touching a female orderly at a psychiatric hospital. Lyttle reported his place of birth was Mexico when he was booked into the prison. Lyttle, removed from his parents’ home at 7, was adopted by another family. As a teenager, Lyttle was institutionalized several times. ICE agents investigating Lyttle’s immigration status searched criminal and other databases which showed Lyttle had a Social Security number and was a U.S. citizen. However, Lyttle signed several documents that cemented his impending deportation, including an acknowledgment that he was a citizen of Mexico and an agreement to be voluntarily removed. Lyttle said he didn’t understand the paperwork and was confused because he is bipolar. While he is of Puerto Rican descent, Lyttle was born in North Carolina and had never traveled outside of the US before he was deported. After Lyttle’s prison term expired, he was transferred to ICE custody and spent six weeks at the a detention center in Georgia. He went before an immigration judge who ordered Lyttle to be removed. He was put on a plane and dropped off at the Mexican border. He had $5 in his pocket and nothing but a prison-issued jumpsuit on his back. Relatives say they were never notified of what happened to Lyttle after he left prison. Lyttle spent 8 days begging and sleeping on the streets before he tried to re-enter the country. However, he was rebuffed by border patrol who searched their database and found his immigration status to be that of a “prior deported alien.” He spent the next 4 months on an odyssey through Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. He alternated between homelessness, shelters and foreign jails. He did not remember his relatives’ phone numbers, which he usually kept written down in his wallet, according to his brother. Because Lyttle lacked proper identification, Mexican officials deported him to Honduras. Honduran officials held Lyttle in an immigration camp, then tossed him in jail, and finally shipped him off to Guatemala. He finally convinced a U.S. embassy official in Guatemala to contact his two brothers who were serving in the U.S. military. Yet even after making arrangements to return, Lyttle was re-arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and detained for six more days. Then, in a motion to terminate deportation efforts, the Department of Homeland Security finally acknowledged that Lyttle was “not a Mexican citizen, and, in fact, is a citizen of the United States.”


Comments are closed.

What’s this?

You are currently reading American citizen gets deported, stuck outside US for months at Harlan York and Associates Immigration Lawyer Team 973.642.1111.


%d bloggers like this: