May 1999 - Abuse of pressumed foreigners INS Style

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INS Deports US Citizen, Admits Error
May 1999

An excerpt from Immigration News Briefs
A monthly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas
Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1999, by Jane G.


On May 7 the INS returned US citizen Thomas Sylvain to Miami and
admitted that it made a mistake in deporting him to Haiti.
Sylvain was immediately rushed to a hospital, where as of May 27
he remained in critical condition, hooked up to a respirator.
Sylvain is gravely ill with AIDS; his condition worsened
significantly during the three months he spent in Haiti. The INS
internal audit office began an investigation on May 12 into the
error, after having previously said there would be no such probe.
 
Sylvain was born in 1978 in the Bronx (New York City), son of a
Irish-American mother and a Haitian immigrant. He was detained
for three months at Krome in Miami and deported in late January
because he had a prior criminal conviction and the INS believed
he was an immigrant. He was never represented by an attorney
while in INS custody.
 
In a statement issued after his return to Miami, the INS said
Sylvain had been provided with "all legal due process given to
anyone, including illegal criminal aliens, with whom the burden
of proof of citizenship lies." But lawyers and advocates argue
that the burden of proof did not lie with Sylvain. "Once you tell
INS you're a citizen, they're duty bound to prove you're not
before they deport you," explained Cheryl Little, lead attorney
at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) in Miami.
 
Kelley Spellman, spokesperson for the INS Miami office, said on
May 11 that Sylvain had claimed to be a Haitian citizen while at
Miami-Dade County Jail and Krome, and in sworn statements to an
immigration judge. "Based on his statements, the immigration
judge established his alienage," Spellman said. Sylvain says he
asserted on several occasions before his deportation that he was
a US citizen. In January and December, he gave statements to
Little and to fellow Krome detainee Lulseged Dhine in which he
asserted his US citizenship. Both passed his statements to
supervisors at Krome. Spellman said INS is not aware of Sylvain's
statements to Dhine or Little.
 
Sylvain's family tried to convince the INS that Sylvain was a
US citizen by showing his birth certificate and an expired US
passport, but the INS said the documentation "arrived in the
hands of the INS much later than was necessary to avoid
deportation." [MH 5/12/99, 5/27/99; ENH 5/8/99]

Previous Reports
  • Jan 96  Hypocrisy
  • Sep 97  Abolish the INS
  • Jan 98  Total breakdown imminent
  • Feb 98  The INS is still a giant devil
  • Mar 98  The emerging Crisis
  • Apr 98  The INS Scam
  • May 98  The H-1B Crisis
  • June 98 Crisis is FAKE
  • July 98  Set Back Campaign
  • Aug 98  Was there a deal?
  • Sep 98  No Deal!
  • Oct 98  Lifting the H-1B cap
  • Dec 98  Gross Abuse
  • Jan 99  Isn't it slavery?
  • May 99  This page
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