US citizen detained by immigration
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Uploaded on Dec 13, 2011
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Immigration authorities held Antonio Montejano in jail for days even though he is a US citizen.
My name is Antonio Montejano, and I live in Los Angeles, California, and I am an American citizen.
And I was detained for immigration.
I went to Sears that day to buy merchandise for the holidays, for Christmas, and things the family needs.
My older kid -- eight years old -- he asked me if I can buy him like a bottle [of] perfume. I put the perfume in the bag by mistake.
I started to continue shopping with my family. When I pay [for] everything, I started to go outside the store. Close to the entrance, one of the clerks from Sears, he stopped me. And I realized there I forgot to pay for the perfume.
I offered to pay. But instead [of] that he said, "you know what, I'm going to call the police and you're going to be arrested."
I'm not that kind of person. I don't have any problems with the police, with nobody.
Antonio was arrested at Sears. He waited in jail for two days before seeing a judge. The judge waived the fine and ordered Antonio's release. But he wasn't released.
L.A. sheriffs continued to detain Antonio because immigration authorities wanted to deport him.
I was tell[ing] every officer, "I'm an American citizen." Nobody believed me when I say "I'm American citizen". When somebody asks you if you are [an] American citizen, and they don't believe you, that's so bad.
When they take me to the LA County Jail, they put me on cell. In those cells I don't have a mattress, no blankets, no bed to sleep.
The ACLU of Southern California sent Antonio's birth certificate and passport to immigration authorities. Antonio was released the next morning.
I was five days away from my family. My wife tells me my daughter, especially her, she cries every day. Yeah.
When I came back home after being arrested and staying in the jail, my son, my older son, asked me, "Hey Daddy, can they take me because I look like you?"
Because he's worried. He's worried that he's going to be detained. Eight years old kid, thinking like that. Because he looks like me.
They think you don't belong to here, that's why. Because they can do that to my family. Yeah.
I'm an American citizen, but nobody believed me.
Learn more about how Secure Communities affects U.S. citizens at http://www.aclu-sc.org
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