June 7, 2009

Wrongfully deported – Charlie Brown's Story

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Last night, Charles Brown called me and asked me to listen to his radio interview on Power 93 FM on Sunday morning. Charles Brown is a deportee whose story was profiled in the Jamaica Gleaner (Read it here: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20071210/news/news1.html ).

At 10am, I turned on the radio, and heard Charles Brown explain how he was deported from the US. Mr. Brown spent nineteen years in the US. He served in the US military, and is a disabled veteran. He was a legal permanent resident of the US, married with two children, and worked as a computer engineer.

In 1996, Mr. Brown was charged with assault after a brawl at a nightclub. He accepted a plea bargain of two years probation, plus victim restitution, although he claims he was not guilty of assault. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. After two years, Mr. Brown had not finished paying the restitution, and his parole was extended for three more years.

Not too long after, Mr. Brown was driving his Lexus in South Florida, on his way to a friend's house. When he got out of the car, a police officer approached him. Mr. Brown asked if he was under arrest. The officer said he was not, and Mr. Brown went into his friend's house. When he emerged a few hours later, his car was gone. The police officer had towed his car, and taken it in for inspection. When Mr. Brown went to claim his vehicle, he was arrested for resisting arrest without violence. Mr. Brown claims that he was convicted to protect the officer, as his car had been completely destroyed, and no evidence of any crime was found. The conviction for this charge triggered a parole violation, and Mr. Brown spent over two years in prison.

According to Charles Brown, he spent two years in prison, and had his car destroyed for virtually nothing. This doesn't seem to bother him. What bothers him is that, upon serving his sentence, he was deported from the country he had spent most of his life in, the country he had served as a soldier. After nineteen years in the US, he was sent back to Jamaica, the country he had left as a teenager.

Mr. Brown firmly believes that he was wrongfully deported. He was deported under the aggravated felony provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. This means that he was deported because he committed a crime of violence for which the sentence was more than one year. He was on parole for two years, but parole is not the same as a sentence. His second conviction turned his parole into jail time. However, he was sentenced to two years parole before the enactment of the 1996 laws that defined an aggravated felony as a crime of violence plus a one year sentence. Before 1996, it had been five years. In some cases, the laws can be retroactive, but Mr. Brown claims that in his case, the retroactive provision should not apply, as he received his sentence via a plea agreement.

Charles Brown has thoroughly researched his case, and argues that his rights were violated on a number of levels. He continues to fight to have his wrongful deportation order overturned. After the radio talk show, Mr. Brown called me and told me he has been corresponding with Attorney General Eric Holder, and sees some new hope for his deportation order to be rescinded.