Due to a tightening of federal immigration enforcement, some U.S. citizens are being detained by immigration officers in South Florida who question their citizenship due to suspected racial profiling, according to the Miami Herald.
Walter, a 17-year-old Florida City resident, was arrested by immigration agents who were in the process of detaining his father, who is an undocumented worker born in El Salvador. Neighbors who witnessed both arrests told the newspaper the same officer who detained Walter approached them afterwards and did not believe they were US citizens.
“He demanded ID, even after we said we were citizens,” Dalila Carballo, who was born in Puerto Rico, told the paper.
The news source said there have been at least four US citizens detained in the Krome immigrant detention center in west Miami-Dade county for several days because officers did not believe they were in the country legally. Officials from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the source that sometimes foreign nationals falsely claim they are citizens and it can be difficult to verify citizenship because there is no national birth record database.
Multiple states have proposed laws that would make it legal for law enforcement agencies to detain individuals suspected of being illegal immigrants. Alabama recently passed what many say is the nation’s toughest immigration law, which allows police to demand proof of citizenship and requires public schools to check their students’ immigration status.