Media Contact

Ann Mullen, ACLU of Michigan Communications Director,, (313) 400-8562

January 23, 2019

Grand Rapids Police Department called ICE on Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, and ICE sought to deport him, even though he had his U.S. passport and military ID

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) sent letters today to the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demanding an immediate investigation into the wrongful ICE detention of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen and decorated veteran who fought in Afghanistan. On November 21, 2018, GRPD arrested Ramos-Gomez, who experiences PTSD, for a minor offense for which he pleaded guilty and should have been released December 14. GRPD called ICE, and ICE sought to deport Mr. Ramos-Gomez, even though he had the following pieces of identification on him when he was arrested:

  • U.S. Passport
  • ​REAL ID compliant Michigan driver’s license (which one cannot get unless lawfully present in the United States and which clearly shows he is a veteran)
  • Military ID card
  • U.S. Marine Corps tags
  • childhood Kent District Library card 

"The more we learn about Jilmar’s case, the more outraged we are," said Miriam Aukerman, ACLU senior staff attorney. "We demand answers from GRPD about why they called ICE when they had proof of Jilmar’s citizenship in their hands. And we demand answers from ICE about why they tried to deport Mr. Ramos-Gomez, even though he had his U.S. passport, Michigan driver’s license, and military ID card. Did they really think that those documents gave them probable cause to believe he was illegally in this country?"

In response to a January 16, 2019 letter by the ACLU and MIRC to the Kent County Sheriff demanding a similar investigation, Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young launched an investigation, and on January 18 announced that the Sheriff’s Department will now require ICE to provide federal judicially-approved warrants before turning over a person in police custody to ICE. The Sheriff is scheduled to report on the results of her investigation at the Kent County Commission meeting on Thursday, January 24, at 8:30 am., which attorneys from the ACLU and MIRC will also attend.

"We applaud the Sheriff’s new policy, and call on other law enforcement agencies around the state — including the Grand Rapids Police Department — to stop assisting ICE in detaining and deporting members of our communities," said MIRC attorney Hillary Scholten. "It is not only a waste of police resources, but is terrorizing communities and tearing families apart."

Read the ACLU and MIRC letter to GRPD.

Read the ACLU and MIRC letter to ICE.