Davino Watson, a Jamaican born man who became a naturalized citizen in 2002, was mistakenly held in detention for three years awaiting deportation. Watson was held in the Buffalo Detention Center, New York, despite repeatedly telling officials of his immigration status.

Watson is not alone. Detention orders were mistakenly placed on 834 United States citizens and 28,489 permanent residents between 2008 and 2012 according to the transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Watson is now suing the US government and some of the immigration officers that held him captive. Originally arrested for selling cocaine, he served eight months for the offence. A detainer request saw him moved from the New York correctional facility to the immigration detention center. It seems amazing that at no point was his status noticed. Considering that he was arrested and served time, surely this would be enough contact with the authorities for his status to have shown up… or to have been questioned earlier in the process.

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If over 29,000 people who are legally living in the United States are detained in immigration detention centers in just four years, then there is something very wrong with the system.


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