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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

ACLU demanding investigation into veteran handed over to ICE by Kent County Sheriff's Office

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

In November of last year, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was arrested and sent to Kent County jail.  After charges from the city of Grand Rapids had been released, Immigration Customs Enforcement requested the Kent County Sheriff Department to hold him until they could take him to a detention center. 

“Even though he was born in the United States right here in Grand Rapids. Went to high school, and then joined the marines after he graduated, became a tank crewman and served our country in Afghanistan, and ICE has identified him as someone they don’t want have in this country anymore and is seeking to deport him.” 

That is Miriam Aukerman, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney. She says Ramos-Gomez is an American Citizen and was carrying his passport when he was apprehended by the Grand Rapids Police Department. 

“There should have been no question that he is a United States citizen, and nevertheless he was turned over to ICE and ICE took him to Battle Creek to the immigration detention center there with the hope that it will be able to deport him.” 

Chuck Dewitt, undersheriff for Kent County, says ICE was notified Ramos-Gomez was being held when his fingerprints were processed. 

“As a result of the fingerprints we received documentation from ICE requesting us to detain once local charges are released. As far as our policies and procedures are concerned it does not look like we were outside of them.” 

Ramos-Gomez spent three days in immigration detention under the threat of deportation. Aukerman says it was thanks to the veteran’s family who advocated for him to be released.  

“This tragedy did not need to happen, should not have happened and ICE needs to be held accountable.” 

Over the last seven months, residents of Kent County have been asking the Kent County Sheriff Department to end its contract with ICE. The contract between the two is what allowed Ramos-Gomez to be held in Kent county Jail until ICE picked him up. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU news. 

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