Citizen's Exile Called a 'Kafkaesque Nightmare'
SAN DIEGO (CN) - A natural-born U.S. citizen has been stranded in Mexico for nearly three years in a "Kafkaesque nightmare" because Customs and Border Protection won't let him return, the man claims in court.
Oscar Olivas, 45, sued local and national directors of Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry, in Federal Court.
Olivas was returning to the United States from Mexico in August 2011 when "CBP officials unlawfully refused to allow him to enter the United States, may have issued an order of removal against him, and referred him for a hearing at an unspecified date that occurred," according to the complaint.
Olivas says he has a U.S. birth certificate, but a State Department official coerced his mother into saying that the certificate was falsified. Olivas was issued a "delayed registration of birth" certificate in 1970, five months after he was born, because his mother - then a Mexican national - "was fearful of giving birth in a hospital and instead delivered Mr. Olivas in a private residence with the assistance of a midwife," the complaint states.
Olivas claims he has tried to remedy his exile through administrative channels, but "CBP officials have told Mr. Olivas that if he returns to ask additional questions about his case, he will be arrested, detained for a period of time that will 'not be brief,' and removed without seeing a judge."
In Mexico, Olivas says, he is unable to provide for his family because he is not a Mexican citizen and cannot work. Also, Olivas's 12-year-old daughter - who suffers from learning and speech disabilities - does not receive the special education she needs and must take classes in Spanish, a language she does not fully understand.
"Mr. Olivas's unlawful expulsion was not an innocent mistake by immigration enforcement officers," said Gabriela Rivera, staff attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, who filed the complaint on behalf of Olivas. "It was the predictable consequence of a system that relies on racial and ethnic stereotypes, empowers officers to act as judge, jury and executioner, and all but prohibits affected individuals from seeking judicial review. A judge should determine citizenship, not an immigration enforcement officer. The government must prioritize preserving the liberty and security of its citizens to remain within their homeland."
Olivas seeks a writ of habeas corpus ordering the defendants to allow him to enter the United States without detaining him, a declaration that he is a U.S. citizen, and a declaration that his removal from the United States violated his civil rights.
The defendants include Billy Whitford, port director of the Calexico West Port of Entry for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Pete Flores, director of field operations in San Diego for CBP; and CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowski.