At the time of Mark Lyttle's deportation, immigration officials had criminal record checks that said he was a U.S. citizen. They had his Social Security number and the names of his parents. They had Lyttle's own sworn statement that he had been born in Rowan County.
None of this stopped them from leaving Lyttle, a mentally ill American who speaks no Spanish, alone and penniless in Mexico, where he has no ties.
U.S. Immigration officials worked Lyttle's case for 31/2 months and held him in immigration detention for more than six weeks, but it took a third party in Guatemala to confirm he was indeed an American citizen.
What happened? And how can this be prevented from happening again? Clearly, this is not only an immigration problem. What the nation needs is a new way of completing all types of investigations so that when facts are revealed, the investigators actually pay attention to them.
Like with so much of law enforcement, once an agency develops a narrative about the alleged perpetrator, they are loathe to reconsider their position. This is how it is possible for police to completely botch a kidnapping investigation, for instance, because they suspected the girl's step-father. Never mind that they routinely passed by the house where she was being held prisoner, and even interviewed her abductors. Her step-father was the most likely suspect. End of stoyr
In the case of wrongful deportation, people can get swept up in the dragnet of our broken immigration system for the smallest transgressions, such as a traffic ticket, and end up being returned to a country where they have no life or history.