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Immigrant Arrested After Wife Writes to Obama

Anyone who believed the Census was just a way for the government to ferret out illegal immigrants may add some fuel to their fire after this story from the Times. In January, New Yorker Caroline Jamieson wrote to President Obama for help with her husband's immigration issues. A citizen of Cameroon, Hervé Fonkou Takoulo has an outstanding deportation order, but no criminal record, and she wanted help to keep him in the country. Six months later, immigration agents showed up at their door, arrested Takoulo and sent him to New Jersey to await deportation. Immigration officials apparently told him, "We’re ICE and we’re here to arrest you because President Obama sent the letter for a review, and we reviewed it and we denied it."

Jamieson wrote requesting a green card for her husband, to whom she has been married since 2005. He wasn't granted one at the time of their marriage because he had been in the country on a temporary business visa, and was denied a request for political asylum. She was hoping that Obama could help his case to be reopened. But instead of sending the letter to the secretariat in Washington with a case summary or to the judge in Baltimore, someone passed it on to the fugitive operations unit.

Takoulo was released on Thursday night after the Times questioned his case, and officials claim they are investigating how the private letter was used to improperly arrest him. The Obama administration has stated a policy of arrested deportable immigrants only if they have a previous criminal record, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian P. Hale said, “ICE has a zero tolerance policy for violations of civil rights."

Though he has been released, Jamieson said, "I’ve been feeling very confused and ashamed as an American citizen...the idea that in the year 2010 I and my family are having the worst and the most barbaric experience — it’s just shameful to me." The good news is officials have said Takoulo will be granted a work permit after he reports to immigration headquarters on July 1st.

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