SAN DIEGO (CN) - Immigration officials imprisoned a U.S. citizen for seven months and when she sued for the abuse tried to revoke her citizenship in retaliation, the woman claims in court.
Sharon Arlanza Yost sued the United States in Federal Court.
Yost, 33, claims she "automatically acquired U.S. citizenship on April 28, 1993," through her mother, a Filipina who became a U.S. citizen in 1989 after marrying a native-born U.S. citizen, a member of the U.S. Navy who was stationed in the Philippines.
She claims Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her on May 14, 2011, and imprisoned her until Dec. 7 that year, "based on their purported, but baseless, belief that plaintiff was a noncitizen subject to deportation from the United States."
Yost claims she showed ICE agents "documentary evidence" that she is a U.S. citizen: that she had been was lawfully admitted as a permanent resident when she was 11 years and naturalized when she turned 13. But ICE "imprisoned her for almost seven months" anyway.
While she sat in prison, Yost claims, ICE failed to investigate her claims to citizenship in violation of its own guidelines that require it to conduct an "immediate and careful investigation and analysis" of such claims.
Nine days after ICE released her, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services "issued a Certificate of Citizenship confirming that Ms. Yost had acquired U.S. citizenship on April 28, 1993 - more than 18 years before she was arrested and detained by ICE," the complaint states.
Yost hired an attorney and sought compensation under the Federal Tort Claims Act for her 208 days of unjust incarceration.
Then ICE retaliated, she says: "Following the filing of that administrative complaint, DHS officers re-reviewed Ms. Yost's citizenship status and issued a notice of intent for administrative cancellation of citizenship under 8 U.S.C. § 1453. Presumably, as there is no other reasoned explanation and no valid legal basis for the notice, DHS issued this notice in response to, and in retaliation for, Ms. Yost's filing of a complaint under the FTCA [Federal Tort Claims Act]. That process is ongoing and is not at in issue in this action. However, even if DHS were to cancel Ms. Yost's citizenship certificate, such cancellation 'affect[s] only the document and not the citizenship status of the person in whose name the documents was issued,'" the complaint states, citing 8 U.S.C. § 1453.
Yost seeks damages for negligence, false imprisonment, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She also wants a trial by judge and the "right to conform the pleadings to the proof and evidence presented at trial."
She is represented by Trina Realmuto with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild of Boston.
The ICE Office of Public Affairs responded to a request for comment with what appeared to be a form letter that did not directly address any of the allegations in Yost's lawsuit.
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