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Wrongly Deported US Citizen Can Sue Government, Judge Says

A U.S. federal judge recommended that a lawsuit go forward against the federal government for deporting a U.S. citizen with mental disabilities to Mexico in 2008.

The decision of U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Webb denied a government plea to throw out the suit that was brought in October 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Mark Lyttle.

"This case was horrible in every aspect and shows how little care the federal government took in not checking on the citizenship of a person born in this country," Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, told EFE.

After being deported, Lyttle, a North Carolina native of Puerto Rican descent, spent four months wandering around the streets, shelters and even prisons of Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, according to the ACLU.

Lyttle first came into contact with U.S. immigration authorities when he was about to leave a state prison after serving a short sentence for touching inappropriately a worker at a mental health facility.

This case was horrible in every aspect and shows how little care the federal government took in not checking on the citizenship of a person born in this country.

- Katy Parker, ACLU

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According to the ACLU, despite the fact that the man had evidence to show he was a U.S. citizen, a Social Security number, the names of his parents and a signed document accepting his nationality, the North Carolina Department of Correction referred him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement as an undocumented immigrant born in Mexico.

The man arrived in Mexico, only to be deported to Honduras and then to Guatemala where he eventually found the U.S. Embassy and where diplomats helped him contact his family and arrange his return to the United States.

During all that time, Lyttle took no medicine to treat his mental illness and bipolar disorder.

In his decision on Monday, Webb described the actions of the federal government as "extreme and outrageous."

"The United States loses sight of the fact that (Lyttle) is not an alien challenging a decision of removal," the magistrate said. "Rather, he is a United States citizen alleging that immigration officials deliberately violated his rights in the execution of their duties."

ICE deported 396,000 people in fiscal year 2011, which ended on Sept. 30, a record number.

Based on reporting by EFE. 

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