ACLU: Mentally ill man wrongly deported

Mark Lyttle is a U.S. citizen, born in Rowan County.

But that didn’t stop state corrections officials or federal immigration agents from putting him on a path to deportation in December 2008.

Lyttle, who speaks no Spanish and is of Puerto Rican descent, ended up spending four months penniless and living on the streets or in prisons and shelters in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

After being booted out of Mexico and Honduras and suffering beatings in prisons, Lyttle was able to reach an American embassy in Guatemala where staff was quickly able to confirm that he was a U.S. citizen. They quickly reached his family, who had no idea what Lyttle’s plight had been, and he was able to return to the United States.

Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union, and its North Carolina and Georgia chapters, filed two federal lawsuits yesterday  against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the N.C. Department of Corrections, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and various immigration agents for violating Lyttle’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Katy Parker, the legal director at ACLU of North Carolina, said the lawsuits are seeking damages for Lyttle as well as policy changes, to prevent others from going through what he did.

Lyttle was in the state prison system after he was convicted of inappropriately touching the rear of a staffer at the halfway house he lived when state correction officials handed him off to immigration agents to investigate his citizenship status.

His mental disabilities and illness were apparent and well-known, yet he was never assigned an advocate or lawyer to help navigate the immigration system, Parker said. State corrections and federal immigration agents also ignored indications that he was a U.S. citizen, including his Social Security number and his statements that he was born in Rowan County.

His family, when they called correction staff to find out about his release, was never told he was in immigration proceedings.

“It’s really scary how you can get on the slippery slope and there are not proper checks and balances, even if you are a U.S. citizen,” Parker said. “In this case, there’s just not adequate protection.”

To read the ACLU complaints or their press release about yesterday’s filings, go here.


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  2. Vickie

    October 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    So, does this mean we should throw our borders open ever wider and spend our last dime for the non-stop latina baby making?

  3. hg

    October 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

    @vickie Try to think with your brain and not your sphincter when you write down your thoughts. No reason to be bitter for having a dry womb.

  4. Joel Wischkaemper

    October 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    The ACLU has suddenly turned up with a whole LOT of money, huh. What is also interesting is that they are becoming so anti American it stinks. Their law suits don’t work to make things better.. they simply work to get the criminals off which also has the effect of jeopardizing American Citizens. We need to look at their books and soon!

  5. Barney

    October 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    How could helping an American be anti-American? My guess is they don’t help “your” version of Americans.

    Assuming this story is true, what greater crime could have been committed against this guy?

    And Vickie, your going to need those latinas to fund your retirement.

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