Peter Sean Brown is a Philadelphia-born man who now lives in Florida and was put on an ICE detainer in April. Brown was almost deported to Jamaica, a country that he has only stepped foot in for one day of his life.
Now, the ACLU is filing a lawsuit on Brown’s behalf, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP. The lawsuit claims that the Florida Sheriff’s Office worked in concert with ICE to unlawfully detain and attempt to deport Brown.
The lawsuit reads in part, “Despite his repeated protests to multiple jail officers, his offer to produce proof, and the jail’s own records, the Sheriff’s Office held Mr. Brown so that ICE could deport him to Jamaica — a country where he has never lived and knows no one.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Brown Was Born in Philadelphia & Has Lived in Florida For Over 10 Years
According to the court documents, Brown was born in Philadelphia in 1968. He grew up in New Jersey, and has lived in Florida for over 10 years. He currently resides in the Florida Keys. Prior to his detainer, Brown worked at Fogarty’s Restaurant.
Jamaica, the country where Brown was almost deported, was entirely unknown to Brown; he had only been there for one day in his life, while on a cruise vacation.
In a video released by the ACLU, Brown said, “I am and have been a U.S. citizen…I did not even realize what ICE was at the time, and reading through it I realized it had something to do with immigration.”
Brown is a gay man, according to the court documents; he has never been married and does not have any children.
2. Brown Was Detained Last April After Turning Himself in for a Probation Violation
According to court documents, Brown turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Office after a probation violation when he tested positive for marijuana. Brown soon learned he had been flagged for deportation to Jamaica, a country that he had only been to for one day on a vacation.
In addition to falsely identifying Brown as a foreign-born individual, the ICE detainer also marked several false pieces of information about him, including that he was seven feet tall (he’s 5’7) and that his birthday was on the wrong day. ACLU has since alleged that ICE completely mistook him for another man with the same man.
Brown was taken into custody on April 5th and released three weeks later on April 27. He was only released after he was first transferred from the Florida Sheriff’s Office to Krome Detention Center on the morning of April 27, where ICE agents finally agreed to review his birth certificate once more.
3. Brown Was Released After a Friend Sent a Copy of His Birth Certificate to ICE
Brown’s friend and manager, Brooke Lynch, procured a copy of his birth certificate. Lynch explained that not only was Brown born in Philadelphia, but that his birthdate was different than the one provided in the ICE detainer.
The court filing notes that Brown also had a valid Florida driver’s license, which can only be obtained for legal citizens, as well as non-citizens who have legal authorization to be in the country.
Brown was released by ICE in Miami, court documents claim, which was a multiple-hour drive from his home. His roommate was eventually able to pick him up and take him home.
4. The ACLU Alleges That the Florida Sheriff’s Office Worked in Concert With ICE to Attempt to Deport Him to Jamaica
In its court filing, the ACLU alleges that the Florida Sheriff’s Office continually and intentionally obstructed justice by holding Brown on an ICE detainer long after the filing was in any way considered legitimate.
It also notes that during his time jailed, Sheriff’s officers “mocked him,” “sang him the theme song to the 1990s TV Show Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and told Brown to stop bothering them. In another instance, Brown claimed that one of the ICE agents told Brown, “Yeah, whatever mon, everything’s gonna be alright,” in a Jamaican accent.
The court filing reveals that Brown was terrified that he would be subject to sexual and physical abuse if he were deported to a Jamaican jail; Jamaica is known for homophobic violence.
5. Brown Is Seeking ‘Appropriate Compensatory Damages’ in Exchange for the Financial Losses He Incurred, as Well as the Emotional Trauma
In a statement released by the ACLU, Brown said, “It’s shocking and not right that somebody can lose their human rights and have all dignity stripped away simply because someone delivers a piece of paper or signs a form.”
Additionally, in a video released by the ACLU (as seen above), Brown explained that the motivations behind his lawsuit were, in part, out of a desire to show people how it could happen to anyone. He said, “I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen, and I can tell you it’s not a good feeling. And with policies like this in order and people implementing them like that, it was only going to continue. There has to be a stop at some point, before it becomes all of us.”
You can read the full lawsuit by the ACLU on Brown’s behalf here.