Mentally Ill American Citizen Deported to Mexico in 2008 Gets $175K for His Troubles


Even if there wasn't a whole bunch of reasons why immigration policy needed to be fixed already, courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) blog, here's another one. All the necessarily elements of government horror are here; mistreatment of the mentally ill, a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare, and seriously, this is a perfect example of how someone being treated this badly, even if he had been "guilty" of the victimless crime of immigration, means that something is seriously wrong, policy-wise.  

Mark Lyttle, an American citizen with mental disabilities who was wrongfully detained and deported to Mexico and forced to live on the streets and in prisons for months, settled his case against the federal government this week.

Lyttle will receive $175,000 for the suffering he endured after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who deported him despite ample evidence that he was a U.S. citizen.  The settlement comes after a federal district court in Georgia ruled in Lyttle's favor in March, holding that the bulk of his claims against the federal defendants should not be dismissed.

The origin of the brush with law and order: 

Lyttle's entanglement with immigration authorities began when he was about to be released from a North Carolina jail where he was serving a short sentence for inappropriately touching a worker's backside in a halfway house that serves individuals with mental disorders. Despite having ample evidence that Lyttle was a U.S. citizen – including his social security number, the names of his parents, his sworn statements that he was born in the United States and criminal record checks – officials from the North Carolina Department of Correction referred him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as an undocumented immigrant whose country of birth was Mexico. 

The best part? Lyttle, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is not Mexican in the slightest, and doesn't even speak Spanish. He had never been to Mexico in his life until he was deported there after being held by ICE for 51 days. There, according to ACLU, he was forced to sign a statement admitting he was an illegal immigrant. He was also forced to defend himself without a lawyer. 

Once deported, Lyttle spent 125 days in the streets and shelters of Mexico, Honduras, and Nicaragua, without a passport or anything to identify him as an American citizen. An American embassy employee in Guatemala eventually helped him, and he returned home, though:

Even then, ICE officials at the Atlanta airport detained him for six days and attempted to remove him again.  Only after the assistance of his family and a lawyer was Lyttle released and the case against him terminated.

$175,000 seems pretty small after that, but good on the ACLU for suing. This is not the first time American citizens have been caught up in immigration snafus, and it probably won't be the last.

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  1. Sorry, Lucy, but I’m going to threadjack.

    Some of you might be familiar (from recent link threads) about the story in Massachusetts now about the drug lab chemist who was faking samples, increasing weights, not actually testing the samples and just marking them all positive, etc.

    One thing about that story that I hadn’t realized until just now:

    This is the lab from Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the case that Radley covered back in the day all the way through the SCOTUS decision. This is the lab where defense attorneys wanted to force chemists to testify, and Martha Coakley said it was too much of a burden.

    Massachusetts lost, and the defense attorneys finally got a piece of these chemists, and LO AND BEHOLD the lab was corrupt.

    1. Do you, Fluffy, truthfully declare, with these very words, to jack this thread?

  2. So, basically, this is a less funny version of “Born in East L.A.”

    1. Took a walk to the corner store, just buy a loaf of bread and a pack of smokes…

      This part reeks of ass-covering, too:

      Even then, ICE officials at the Atlanta airport detained him for six days and attempted to remove him again. Only after the assistance of his family and a lawyer was Lyttle released and the case against him terminated.

    2. In 1987 it was an absurd comedy, that could never actually happen.

      22 years later the movie is practically the blueprint for an actual government agency.

      This is progress?

  3. What an adventure!

  4. When The NO first reported on Lyttle’s case in April, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said that Lyttle had caused the mistake by declaring that he was from Mexico. They maintain that position now.

    “Individuals who misrepresent their true identity and make false statements to ICE officers create problems both for law enforcement and themselves,” ICE spokesman Ivan Ortiz-Delgado said in a written statement.

    I feel bad for those badged bureaucrats. I’m sure the problem of having to explain how fucking lazy and unprofessional you are to sympathetic colleague/investigators is terrible.

  5. Mentally Ill American Citizen Deported to Mexico



  6. Not the weekend yet, but I’m going to jack this thread in the interest of exposing Canada for the wretched hive of scum and villainy that it is.

    Canada’s top court says some HIV carriers may withhold condition from partners

    Canada’s top court said on Friday that failing to tell a sexual partner you have HIV is only sexual assault if there is “a realistic possibility” of transmitting the virus that causes AIDS.

    In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the government’s argument that everyone who has HIV should be required to disclose that condition to all sexual partners in any circumstance.

    Several groups involved in the case, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian AIDS Society, took issue with the court’s standard of a “realistic possibility,” saying it is too severe, and calling the decision “a major step backwards for public health and human rights.”

    The HIV groups said in a release that the risk of spreading HIV is made negligible just by using condoms, and that the court’s decision “blatantly ignores solid science.”

    You don’t need any informed consent to decide whether or not to have sex in Canada. Just wrap it up tight. And if the condom breaks and the viral load isn’t quite “negligible” enough, the Canucks have a great universal healthcare system.

    1. Holy shit, this song will never mean the same to me. Wrap it Up

      1. That girl, while well endowed in the ass area, is like the worst dancer EVAH!

    2. I never voted for this Supreme Court!

    3. Let me see if I understand what’s going on here: An individual with HIV may withhold their HIV+ status from sex partners if there is not a “realistic possibility” that it will be transmitted and this is NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR HIV ADVOCATES!?!?!?

      What the freaking frumping frell do they WANT????

      1. You’d think AIDS activists would be in favor of growing their constituency.

  7. A few dozen pages were withheld from the file released by ICE.

    Probably the pages containing Lyttle’s declarations that he was from Saturn.

  8. Is this a kiss or sexual assault?

    1. Totally sexual assault. All this dirty male learned over the past five years led him to believe that physical violence was appropriate behavior for getting his way, and this didn’t stop with the end of the war. This is absolutely animal domination, exposed at its core. Anyone who ever viewed this picture is essentially guilty of viewing snuff porn.

    2. “to his impinging on someone else’s bodily autonomy”

      You mean . . . self ownership?

  9. OK, I keep waiting for some ICE motherfucker to hear my Stryne accent and take me in for deportation to ‘Strylya.

    And I’ll say bring it on, motherfucker.

    1. Or you might be deported to Austria. =P

      *ducks and runs*

  10. I changed my mind, nicole. As much as junk-Americans makes sense in gender non-nuetral terms, rapist-Americans is the better name for the penis and scrotum bound. After all, if we are all rapist-Americans then some of don’t stand out from the crowd as much as before.

    1. This is where the joke handle came in handy. With everyone registered, there’s no “Sean Connery” responding with:

      “I’ll have ‘The Rapist’ for $200, Trebek.”

  11. Removing sovereign immunity is the simplest, the best, and really the only solution to abuses and injustices. Forget mandated or uniform procedures and process. The authorities can do whatever they think is necessary, but none of their actions would ever be risk-free and they’d be held personally responsible for their own fuck ups.

    1. Whether sovereign immunity is a good idea or not,I’m all for reducing the authority of the government and the courts to things that are written down in law (Constitutional or statute). Some of the immunities enjoyed by government don’t even exist in statutory law – the court just created them by decree. This whole “third way” of creating law via judicial fiat is kind of crazy.

      I recognize that it is inconvenient to require the legislature and executive to negotiate language for every little power the government needs and take the time to formalize it in writing and then go to all the trouble of voting on it, but how else do you get a truly legitimate government? Just because some guy with the word “justice” in his title “says so” is not that far removed from Monty Python’s “Watery Tarts distributing distributing swords” method of governance.

      1. What you’re refering to is called a civil law system. As opposed to a common law system. And yeah, the US common law system is nucking futs. A legacy of feudal Britain that no know one in there right mind would create from scratch.

        1. Oddly, though, it was the common law system that recognized the rights enshrined in the BOR, and the civil law system that created the groaning mass of law that we now labor under.

          Common law is more of a bottom-up, emergent system. Civil is top-down.

  12. OK wow that makes a lot of sense dude, But after teh bottom feeding, blood sucking attorneys get their cut, that will prolly leave em with $2.75 left

  13. Didn’t Cheech and Chong make a movie about this?

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