A U.S. military combat veteran, who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after being arrested for trespassing and setting a fire, despite the fact that he had his passport on him when he was arrested, according to the Washington Post.
Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a 28-year-old Michigan resident, was arrested in November 2018 for trespassing into a secure area of a hospital, setting a fire, and pulling a fire alarm. He was not a patient at the hospital.
Ramos-Gomez saw combat action in Afghanistan in 2013 as a tank crewman, and has dealt with PTSD since he returned to the U.S.
When Grand Rapids police arrested him, they reviewed his passport, which immediately identified him as a U.S. citizen. Police Capt. Curtis VanderKooi saw news of the arrest on television (he was off-duty at the time) and called his department’s ICE liaison to check into Ramos-Gomez’s immigration status.
Ramos-Gomez was born and raised in Michigan and, again, had his passport on him during his arrest, so there was no apparent reason to suspect he did not have legal status in the U.S., besides perhaps his name. VanderKooi was ultimately suspended for his conduct in this matter.
ICE claimed that Ramos-Gomez said he was in the U.S. illegally during verbal statements, but the agency did not specify why that alleged verbal statement (Ramos-Gomez’s legal representatives deny the statement) took precedence over clear evidence to the contrary.
Ramos-Gomez was detained from Nov. 29 until Dec. 14 in Kent County Jail, and then detained by ICE for three additional days. He was released Dec. 17, 2018.
Ramos-Gomez received a $190,000 settlement from the city on Tuesday for wrongful detainment. Family attorney Richard Kessler said the city did not admit fault but “they know they did something wrong.”
“He fought on the battlefield and came back scarred,” said ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman to the Post. “And instead of honoring him, ICE tried to deport him.”
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