In 2005, Army veteran Rennison Vern Castillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was wrongfully detained for months when it was suspected that he was an undocumented immigrant. Though Thursday, he not only received a six-figure settlement, but a written apology as well.
Castillo, now 33, originally of Belize, spent over seven months in jail and was almost deported after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s Northwest Detention Center mixed up his files.
After having served eight months for an unrelated case, Castillo was not released, but instead transferred to an immigration detention center. Despite his protests, and repeatedly telling immigration officers that he was a naturalized citizen, he was ignored because his records were claiming he was an undocumented immigrant.
“They were disrespectful and told me that I would say anything to get out of detention,” said Castillo. “It was a nightmare.”
In 2006, Castillo was horrified to learn that an immigration judge had ordered him to be deported. Luckily, Castillo received help from attorneys who managed to block the deportation by challenging the decision before the DOJ;s Board of Immigration Appeals. One month later, immigration officials released him without any kind of explanation.
It was later discovered that his detainment was a result of incorrect paperwork. His name had been misspelled, and he had been given a number of “alien numbers” in immigration records.
The eight-year Army veteran, now living in Tacoma, Washington, went on to sue the Northwest Detention Center, and a settlement of $400,000 and a written apology was reached.
In the apology, the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle stated:
“I believe that none of my clients … would ever have wanted to, or knowingly would have, detained a veteran and United States citizen,” wrote Philip H. Lynch, chief of the civil division in the U.S. attorney’s office. “We very much regret that you were detained.”