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$315,00 to Louisiana Man Imprisoned, Deported

by Lonnie Burton

In 2015 the United States government agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a Mexican national who had been a U.S. citizen for six years before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials rounded him up, threw him in jail for 87 days, then deported him to Mexico where he had no family. The parties agreed to settle the case for $315,000, which does not include compensation for the three years the man was essentially "exiled" in Mexico.

Andres Robles Gonzalez -- identified in court documents as Robles -- became a U.S. citizen on June 13, 2002, when he was just 13 years old. Robles had-been living in the U.S nearly all of his life, since the age of six. In 2008, at age 19, Robles was "unlawfully arrested, detained, prosecuted, and deported" to Mexico by ICE agents, despite the "objectively verifiable fact" that Robles was a U.S. citizen, according to documents filed by Robles' attorneys. As part of the deportation process, Robles was held in jail for 87 days. No reason was given why ICE did not recognize that Robles was a U.S. citizen, and court records merely state that "ICE took no proactive steps to correct the false records its agents created to deport Mr. Robles."_

While in Mexico, Robles missed the births of his niece and nephew, endured separation from his parents and sister, and was deprived of the chance to further his education and to earn U.S. wages, documents filed by Robles' attorneys state.

In June 2011, the U.S. government finally acknowledged its mistake and recognized that Robles was indeed a citizen. ON September 21, 2011, an immigration judge agreed and vacated the deportation order and terminated the removal proceedings.

Once back in the United States and reunited with his family, Robles sued the government and several ICE agents and false imprisonment and due process grounds. Additionally, Robles sought to correct ICE records, asserting that he continued to suffer "real, concrete, and immediate harm as the result of the false and malicious information (Homeland Security officials) placed into its databases when it illegally deported him in 2008."

The lawsuit, filed in 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, settled just about a year later for $315,000, although it was not clear from the documents provided if that amount included costs and attorney's fees. Robles was represented in the case by attorneys Jerry A. Martin and R. Andrew Free of Nashville, and Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. and J. Lane Ewing, Jr. of Baton Rouge.

See: Gonzalez v. United States, U.S.D.C. (E.D. La.), Case No. 2:14-cv-00696-CJB-JCW.

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Related legal case

Gonzalez v. United States