Tenth Circuit: ICE Detainees Get Chance to Prove Citizenship

Ruling examines procedures of REAL ID Act, habeas petitions

An individual detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement must be afforded the opportunity to prove citizenship in an Article III court, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said last week.

Abraham Gonzalez-Alarcon was born in Mexico in 1993 and came to the U.S. in 2005, but was ordered removed in 2012. He reentered and was again ordered removed in 2013. After a third reentry, he was taken into federal custody and charged with illegal reentry. In April 2015, his removal order was reinstated.

Gonzalez-Alarcon’s mother was born in New Mexico, but she explained to the court she never received a U.S. birth certificate. She left the country shortly after she was born and later returned to Albuquerque for school. His mother and grandmother both submitted affidavits confirming her time in the U.S. and Gonzalez-Alarcon’s citizenship. His criminal charges were dismissed, and he filed for a stay of removal. While in ICE custody, he then filed a habeas petition. He was detained for six months.

Gonzalez-Alarcon’s attorney Olsi Vrapi said U.S. citizens get picked up and detained by ICE “all the time.” He says ICE advises these individuals to file an Application for Certificate of Citizenship through U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, or an N-600, and if that’s granted, ICE will release them. But Vrapi said that process can take several months or years in some cases.

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