Peter Sean Brown, a U.S. citizen born in Philadelphia, has filed a lawsuit after nearly being deported to Jamaica, the Miami Herald reports.
In April, Brown turned himself in to authorities after violating his probation by smoking marijuana, but he ended up being detained and put on a list to be deported to the Caribbean nation.
With assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, Brown, who is currently a resident of the Florida Keys, is suing Florida’s Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay on charges of violating his constitutional rights, including detaining him for weeks at the request of agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
“The sheriff’s inmate file for Mr. Brown confirmed, in multiple places, that he was a U.S. citizen,” the suit reads. “The file lists his place of birth as “’Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’” in capital letters. This file was available to jail staff throughout Mr. Brown’s detention.”
Brown claims he was mocked while in detainment by guards who allegedly called him “mon” in a Jamaican accent. They also allegedly sang the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because of the line “In West Philadelphia, born and raised.”
Officers sang our client the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air —“West Philadelphia born and raised” — after he repeatedly told them he is a US citizen from Philadelphia.
The officers told him that their practice was to hold everyone that ICE asks for, no matter what. https://t.co/2lmktfx1zh
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 4, 2018
The Philly native sat in an ICE detention center for weeks before a friend sent Miami agents a copy of his birth certificate and he was released.
“I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen,” said Brown in a statement Monday. “With policies like this and people implementing them like that, it’s only going to continue. There has to be a stop to it at some point before it becomes all of us.”
Amien Kacou, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida, said, “The sheriff ignored our warnings and doubled down by signing on early to ICE’s latest sham — the BOA detainer scheme. With this lawsuit, we reaffirm that, regardless of ICE’s empty promises, Florida sheriffs will continue to be held accountable for doing the agency’s dirty work.”