Friday, February 25, 2011
From the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:
Years after being wrongfully detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rennison Castillo, a United States citizen and Army veteran, is finally receiving an apology and just compensation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In November of 2005, Mr. Castillo had just completed his sentence for violation of a protection order and harassment. Instead of being released from jail, he was transferred to the custody of ICE, which held him at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA for the next seven and a half months. During his detention, Mr. Castillo, who was born in Belize but became a United States citizen in 1998 while serving in the U.S. Army, repeatedly explained to several different ICE officers, and then to an Immigration Judge, how he had not only been naturalized as a U.S. citizen, but had also honorably served this country in the U.S. military. ICE claimed that Mr. Castillo was in the country illegally and began deportation proceedings against him.
Like other immigration detainees faced with deportation, Mr. Castillo was not entitled to a court-appointed attorney, and he could not afford to hire a private attorney. He was only released after Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) took up his case on appeal.
Subsequently, Mr. Castillo received assistance from NWIRP attorneys Matt Adams and Angélica Cházaro, who agreed to represent him against the ICE officers who were responsible for his detention.
"What was most disturbing to me in reviewing this case was the callous indifference of the ICE officials," said his attorney, Matt Adams. "We knew we had to take some sort of action to try to prevent this abuse of power from happening again in the future."
After learning of the case, the law firm of K&L Gates agreed to provide pro bono representation to Mr. Castillo. K&L Gates lawyers representing Mr. Castillo included Douglas Greenswag, Theo Angelis, and Kymberly Evanson. Theo Angelis, a partner with K&L Gates and one of Castillo's attorneys explained: "Our soldiers deserve honor, respect, and justice. We are proud of helping Mr. Castillo obtain an apology and just compensation."
The government agreed to enter settlement negotiations after a federal district court judge denied the government's motion to dismiss. In addition to the damages award and the formal statement of regret, DHS announced a revised policy to help prevent similar incidents in the future.