We are representing Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen and Marine Corps veteran who was wrongfully turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation proceedings. Mr. Ramos-Gomez, who suffers from PTSD as a result of his military service in Afghanistan, was arrested by the Grand Rapids police in 2018 after trespassing at a local hospital. An off-duty police captain named Curt VanderKooi saw Mr. Ramos-Gomez’s picture on the news and asked ICE to check his “status,” despite having no reason to think he was undocumented other than his name and Latino appearance. ICE then issued an immigration detainer request for Mr. Ramos-Gomez, resulting in the Kent County Jail placing him in federal custody until his family could prove he was a U.S. citizen and get him released.
An ACLU of Michigan investigation revealed that Captain VanderKooi, who is supposed to have no role in immigration enforcement, has contacted ICE on over 80 occasions, each time asking them to check the immigration status of a person of color. In 2019 Captain VanderKooi was suspended without pay, the Grand Rapids police announced a new policy that prohibits officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status or contacting ICE for civil immigration enforcement, and the City of Grand Rapids settled Mr. Ramos-Gomez’s claim for $190,000. Similarly, Kent County adopted a new policy requiring a judicial warrant before turning someone over to ICE. ICE, however, refused to accept responsibility, and in November 2019 we filed suit.
We also sued Calhoun County under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records about Mr. Ramos-Gomez’s detention in their jail. The case against Calhoun County is now in the Michigan Court of Appeals after the trial court dismissed our lawsuit based on an obscure federal regulation that the county says prohibits the public from seeing all local records about people held for ICE.
(Ramos-Gomez v. Adducci; ACLU of Michigan v. Department of Homeland Security; ACLU of Michigan v. Calhoun County; ACLU Attorneys Miriam Aukerman, Dan Korobkin, Monica Andrade and Elaine Lewis; Cooperating Attorneys Anand Swaminathan, Matthew Topic, Joshua Burday, Merrick Wayne, Megan Pierce, and Matthew Topic of Loevy & Loevy; additional attorneys include Julia Kelly, Richard Kessler and Hillary Scholten.)