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July 26th, 2010
07:05 AM ET

U.S. Citizens Deported

Americans deported – the concept sounds so wrong, it's strange to even hear the words together.  But a researcher from Northwestern University says it happens everyday.  Political theorist Jackie Stevens,  States Without Nations,  estimates of the approximate one million people the U.S. government deports, less than one percent are American – a tiny percentage but that translates into hundreds of U.S. citizens wrongfully forced to leave the country.  And now there are concerns with the implementation of Arizona's new immigration law this week, the problem will get worse.  Don Lemon spoke with one American, Johann Ace Francis, who lost 10 years with his family after he was mistakenly deported.

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Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Don Lemon
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. ken

    sounds like another lame excuse by the media why we should not deport 12 million illegals who are here taking 8 million jobs from u.s. citizens. Where was the media when the u.s. invaded iraq because we were told by cheney and powell they iraq wmd's and nuclear weapons.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  2. Randy

    Why does the media cover the negative about this immigration law, not the positive .It's a one sided view ,WHY??? It's time someone show why we need the ILLEGALS to go back home.They can start over and do the immigration the right way . Some legals maybe mistaken which everyone is sorry but it's worth the trying to stop the 99.9% illegals .

    July 26, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  3. Charles Mallory

    I would like say there are more Illrgals who donot even come in to view .With 12.M Illegals in the US they all have work of some kind and the employers don't pay minum wages or turn in any taxes whitch is tax evaison.and on top fo that nothing is sayrd ro doon about it. If there were no jobs for them they just stay at home.SOas usel bisness inds up screwing the tax payers as useal. This incudes all the goverment imployes in Washinton with there illegal Hous and garden keepers.FI minum wage was inforsed you wold be supprised who will complain the most ..If we as a country inforce illegals we must also fine the buisness who make it possable for them to live and work here Illgeal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  4. Bob

    You cannot compare this mistake by the U.S. Government and ICE to Arizona. Arizona is being bombarded with human trafficking and drug dealers of which who are murderers. This is absolutely not a fair comparison at all. The Government and the media are just using this as propaganda to stop Arizona's new law of enforcing illegals from coming across their border. If the Government would have been doing their job of enforcing the law they would have also been saving the American people billions of dollars which Flo free to these illegals. This is absolutely appalling.

    July 26, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  5. Larry

    Why are they comparing apples to oranges? This did not happen in Arizona, and occurred in 1999. What errors has the Arizona law made so far? Obviously none, since it hasn't been enacted yet. Had the federal govt been doing a good job, it wouldn't be necessary at all! The fact that the federal ICE program made a mistake, and took 10 years to correct it, seems to be another reason that the states need to take action instead of depending on the federal govt programs. This story is meant to create fear amoung the population, not report on a event, because no "event" has taken place! How can you accurately report on speculation? I guess that is what the media calls "investigative reporting". Don't wait until it happens, report it as you think it is going to happen and don't worry about what REALLY happens!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  6. Leo

    The Arizona Law is being refined in the Courts – as we speak – and other States will enact their laws and rightly so. Amnesty is NOT going to happen and this kind of pandering reporting will not change the inevitable. Shame on CNN.

    July 26, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  7. p.Mont

    It seem that this was something that his parents were supposed to take care of, anyway there is absolutely nothing wrong with the AZ law, this is common sense, I am sick of hearing ACLU type Lawyers defend the rights of Illegal Aliens, What about the rights of American Citizens, People in border towns, and now across the United States are being terrorized by people from foreign countries, we have no way of knowing who most of them are, they commit crimes against U.S Citizens, and come and go as they please, All this present government is doing is making the average citizen aware of is how incompetant it is, and making us arm ourselves to protect what his federal government want protect. This Government is failing us.

    July 26, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  8. mars

    The point of this article is that once INS gets you, you have no legal protection. He had citizenship. He didn't need any paperwork to prove citizenship because he had american parents. However he didn't know any of that because it was all over and done with when he was a baby. He couldn't prove any of that because INS didn't have to provide lawyers or even give him access to any paperwork he might have had at home. The only thing the commenter in this video argues is that if we plan to step up a system that we know is broken, the least we can do is offer more protection to the people it snaps up.

    July 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  9. AnneSD

    There sure are a lot of people commenting that seem to think this is a minor problem and totally irrelevant. After all, it is less than 1 percent. So, I guess it will be okay with you if the next one mistakenly deported is you or one of your relatives?

    The reality is that once this happens, it is extremely difficult and expensive to correct the problem. The government does NOT like to admit mistakes. Are you prepared to bankrupt yourself and your family to correct such a situation?

    The problem many of us CONSERVATIVES have with the Arizona law is that is very badly written and puts the burden of proof (and suspicion) on US citizens, rather than on the government. This law presumes that a person stopped is guilty until THEY can prove that they are citizens or legal residents. This is totally backwards from the way our system is supposed to work.

    July 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  10. ThisIsNotNews

    In Short: This guy committed a crime and was deported back to Jamaica because he couldn't prove his US citizenship, when asked by police if he was "a US Citizen" he responded "I think so..."

    Most people who are citizens, KNOW SO. Further more, even if he was "a citizen" he was an immigrant who came here and set about breaking our laws. Lets chalk this unpleasant experience he has undergone up to "his punishment"..He is so quick to break the laws, but then cries for the level of protection the USA offers him...what a loser.

    July 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  11. d.barry

    What does an illegal immigrant need to do to become a legal citizen? Looks like if they endure all the pain and suffering to get here, and the living in fear of deportation, they would want to become legitimate citizens!The war on drugs never discusses what would happen on the border if pot was legal.wouldn't that decrease the drug war? Because the war on drugs has made the drug wars!! A news ticker said that a city in the usa decreased their police force,then reported the increase of officers killed by drug selling gangs, doesn't that seem like the same path as the infiltrated Mexican police. The cartels or gangs become so powerful they make a police force inadequate by killing officers who dont look the other way.I fear our good intentions of not calling anyone anything because someone will be offended is sweet but not practical.

    July 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  12. Marie

    "Some legals maybe mistaken which everyone is sorry but it's worth the trying to stop the 99.9% illegals"
    As a LEGAL immigrant to this country who has lived LEGALLY here for 22 years, went through the (very long) immigration process LEGALLY, and became (proudly) a U.S. citizen 11 years ago, I am offended by your remark and the lightness with which you look at my rights as a U.S. citizen.
    People who are posting comments on this forum seem very eager to vent about illegal immigration and ignore that this article refers to AMERICANS being deported.
    As a U.S. citizen, and an Arizona resident (non-hispanic), I would personally like to thank CNN for posting it.

    July 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  13. Chris R

    You people make me sick. Hundreds of *AMERICANS* are being illegally deported every year and all you can say is "Well, that's fine." What if it happened to you? Your brother? Your cousin? Would that be alright because we're only deporting a few American citizens?

    I'm not saying we need to stop deporting illegal immigrants but anyone that says reform isn't necessary is sicking their heads in the sand.

    July 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  14. Helen Rivas

    We need an effective, practical immigration policy–one that actually issues enough visas for the jobs that truly can't be filled. Obliging employers to obey the law and respect employees with a living wage would fill some jobs. Also, employers who export jobs overseas to the detriment of American workers do not deserve any kind of tax break or special consideration.

    We also need a foreign policy that supports better quality of life in other countries–no more support for military thugs, oppressive governments nor underpaid, exploited voters.

    Sadly much of the screaming about certain conditions comes from those who are standing in the way of reform.

    July 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  15. lissy

    Granted, we need to secure our borders and this immigration law seems to be wanted by the people of Arizona and maybe other places.
    However, I wish more Americans realize that we are not losing our jobs to people from other countries that come in illegally. There are millions of jobs that we have lost due to economy turning sour that an illegal person could not be able to perform..and this is because big corporations/manufacturing are leaving America.
    An illegal person does not receive an unemployment check, help from the government or even good healthcare...they pay it with whatever they make in the streets.
    This country needs to stop the hand outs to the people that reproduce as business, to the drug users in the streets, the thieves....those are the ones sucking the blood of my taxes.
    I want the government to stop the absurd benefits to the cubans in miami, to the colombians or venezuelans because of their government....we are not the foster parents of those people.
    People from other countries that come legally to this country because they obtained help from the government...those are taking away the jobs. But they do pay the taxes but they bring their whole family.
    People from other countries that came in and PAID their way through college at a minimum of $42,000 a year -paid by resources coming from their own country...don't owe anything to anyone...that's my case. My parents money, my abilities and the opportunities given by this country helped me to have what I have now....
    I obey the law...I adapted...I did not bring or impose my culture...because it's not ok! I am an american citizen that assimilated american culture....

    July 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  16. DB

    In case some of you missed it – 1% of 1 million is 10,000.. that is more than 27 citizens deported every day, and more than one every hour! That suggests there are at least 1 ICE team making mistake every hour...

    July 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  17. Patty

    In general, the legal immigration climate of the U.S. needs to be addressed . We are a nation of immigrants and we need to embrace that. Today, there are significant numbers of undocumented immigrants. While it is important to address this issue we cannot do this at the expense deporting innocent citizens like Howard. Despite the his brief criminal record, he shouldn't have been deported. He has lost 10 years of time with his family, educational opportunities and benefits entiled to him. This man might be able to continue with this current life right now but those precious years may never be replace. Thus the INS needs to make an strong effort not to deport actual citizens living in the United States because this potentionally leads to detrimental life consequences for these citizens.

    July 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  18. Rob in Wisconsin

    It is time that the media starts actually reporting the facts about the primary section of our immigration law that Arizona has passed their own law in accordance with. Better yet CNN needs to responsibly report on what its author Rep. Lamar Smith has to say about this laws actual definition! And I quote: Ms. Meissner and Mr. Ziglar asserted that Arizona's immigration enforcement law 'appears to go well beyond the intent of 287(g).' They also claimed that the federal government 'must expressly delegate . . . authority' to states that wish to aid in the enforcement of our immigration laws.

    In fact, paragraph 10 of section 287(g) specifically provides for the type of law that Arizona has enacted. It states: 'Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an agreement . . . in order for any officer of a State . . . to communicate with the [Secretary of Homeland Security' regarding the immigration status of any individual . . . or otherwise to cooperate with the [Secretary] in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States.'

    - Rep. Lamar Smith
    Simply stated, 287 encourages ALL states to assist in the management, monitoring and removal of ALL illegal aliens for the protection of our national interests and that includes wage protection for the American worker!

    July 28, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  19. Jeff

    I have been watching CNN intently as of late and it seems there is a strong bias towards showing how illegal immigrants are
    -being victimized
    -are key to our economy
    -facing unfair choices about being deported whilst leaving legal citizen family members behind
    -only doing jobs citizens refuse to do

    All while ignoring that this is self imposed by coming here illegally.

    I have counters for all of the above arguments, but they aren't real arguments anyway, they are distractions from the real issue...and it is quite simple. These people are here illegally regardless of the reason. The idea of granting amnesty is is an insult to those who came here legally and it sets a precedent which basically says if you can hide long enough we will eventually give you citizenship.

    In addition the nonsense of building useless walls and trying to seal the border are worthless until we start to penalize the businesses employing them and providing them housing. Shut down businesses after a 2nd offense for a 90 day period and it no longer is cost effective to abuse and underpay illegal immigrants.

    I have always considered CNN to be the middle of the road news outlet, basically presenting the facts on both sides....Lately I call this into question. Start giving equal realistic time to the other side of this argument or I will get my news somewhere else.

    July 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  20. Manny

    What about the thousands of men and women that have died in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of freedom from terrorists? so what if someone is deported by mistake, isn't that a sacrifice we are willing to take to free our country of illegals who are taking over our jobs. I understand African Americans, they were brought here by force, but no one asked Mexicans to come here, and if they wanted to come here, there is a legal way of doing it. Enough is enough, we need to stop feeling sorry for everyone and stop making everyones problem our problem. Economy is still a mess, illegals are multiplying, drugs are being smuggled, we are fighting 2 wars. We need to do something!

    July 31, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
  21. kelly

    If the AZ Governor is unhappy with the job the Feds are doing, Then her choice is for AZ to sue to Gov. on the grounds they are failing in their job to protect your southern border. If the Gov. loses in court, hurray for AZ will have forced the Gov. to fix their southern border.That's the way it works in America. But you do not get to pass laws that make crimiinals of an entire race and give sweeping power to the police, to decide who is illegal. We answered those questions all most 50 years ago. Shame on AZ and Shame on America for this treatment of hispanics. Sherriff Joe Arpayo, should be arrested and have to serve time with the same people he put in jail. These hispanic people are not taking away any job that an American wants to have. There would be no roads, buildings or restaurant cooks if it weren't for our hispanic brothers. I hope AZ loses all court cases in this arena of law.

    July 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  22. Beverly Corbett

    Thank you Don for your more balanced approach to the news. I truly think CNN is trying to be more balanced and present the news honestly. I appreciate the fact your people actually came to Phoenix to try to present both sides to the story. I like John King and the girl with him I'm thinking they are married (Dana Bash?) and they seem to be honestly trying to show the truth but really didn't. What they really didn't get was the core of the tempest in the teapot. Did they not see the Mexican Flags waving where the illegals first love. They don't come here for the love of Freedom, they have no connection to our love of country. They are so shallow that they actually believe that there is nothing wrong with coming to this country illegally, they think of it as a plot. I know that one of your CNN anchors blames our government for making them welcome and giving them opportunities to work in Agriculture. They never tell their children they are not citizens when they are growing up and their kids think of themselves as citizens till they get out of high school and want to go to college and they don't have a Social Security and find out they are illegal. And who has paid for all that education and who is asked to pay for their college education when you yourself have never had help in getting an education for your own kids but then you are expected to educate illegals, and see that they have health care at all time thanks to our loving government!!!!!! Plus when they have accidents there is no Insurance so you have to deal with that sometimes they don't stop because they don't have a license or Insurance and who pays we do. So see you really didn't cover the whole story and the biggest complaint of all is have our precious ballots printed in Mexican and now the stores are starting to print eveything in both Languages and that is the crowning blow to our citizens!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 31, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  23. Oscar in Miami Beach

    I just saw a piece on immigrant workers in California.These people that have been comming to pick fruits in the field also come to Florida and other States.They are "immigrant workers" and come during fruit picking times.We have them and we welcome them.What about doing a piece on illegal aliens that are illegaly in places like Miami Beach that have fake papers and work in restaurnts,hotels,construction, that should be done by USA citizens not illegals with those fake papers.Those are the ones we want out.Those jobs pay very well and any USA citizen would love to have them.Those illegal aliens that are breaking the USA immigration laws and so are criminals.In the USa anybody that breaks the law is commiting a crime.Illegal aliens are criminals just like muggers and child molesters.They MUST be arrested,jailed and deported to their countries.Again no matter how anybody looks at it,anywhere in the worls illegal aliens are criminals.It must be the same in the USA.

    August 1, 2010 at 3:38 am |
  24. wilfred from fresno

    I have a comment to make about the Mexican federal government. So many Mexicans have had it with the Mexican government turning a blind eye to the epidemic of problems associated with the narco-kingpins, (principally violence, murders and abductions). They have access to every aspect of their communications; they know where they are, who they communicate with and who their targets are. If they really wanted to, they could easily rid the country of this problem; they don't because it is their own people who are involved.
    From the time of the killing of Luis Donaldo Collosio, the federal government of Mexico has been run by the same low-lifes who make up the drug cartels. It is an embarassment for me to see any Mexican government official-beginning with Felipe Calderon-shown the welcome mat at the White House. They are a piece of trash and should be treated as such.

    August 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  25. JB

    I am surprised that more us citizens who have been deported do not sue DHS or whoever responsible. Maybe there are payoffs of which I am unaware. Even worse, each person improperly deported is a potential public relations nightmare. Should these incidents be swept beneath the carpet, great animosity is inevitable, and this will lead to unfortunate outbursts if unstable persons are the victims. Better supervision, communication and organization would go a long way to avoiding these snafus.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  26. chris

    people wrongly deported... how exactly is this happening? do people not have identification? you pretty much need a photo ID of some sort to live in the U.S.

    August 22, 2010 at 7:47 pm |