Man sues for wrongly being deported

Oct. 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM
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ATLANTA, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A mentally ill Georgia man sued the U.S. government for deporting him to Mexico as an illegal immigrant when he was in fact born in North Carolina.

Mark Lyttle, 33, of Griffin, Ga., seeks unspecified damages and new safeguards to protect the rights of U.S. citizens and people with mental disabilities subject to potential deportation.

Lyttle was misidentified as an illegal immigrant in September 2008 while serving a 100-day sentence at a North Carolina prison on a misdemeanor assault charge, the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court in Atlanta alleged.

This is because, when Lyttle was booked into the prison, he said he was born in Mexico City, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Corrections said.

Later Lyttle agreed to be deported, U.S. officials said.

Lyttle's lawyers claim Lyttle -- who they say has mental disabilities, including bipolar disorder, and a history of physical abuse and emotional problems -- was coerced into approving the documents.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported him with a judge's approval Dec. 18, 2008.

With $5 and his prison-issued jumpsuit, Lyttle spent four months on an odyssey through Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala before convincing a U.S. Embassy official in Guatemala to contact his two brothers serving in the U.S. military.

The brothers cleared things up and the embassy official was able to get a passport to Lyttle within 24 hours, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security later acknowledged Lyttle was "not a Mexican citizen, and, in fact, is a citizen of the United States."

"They took my freedom from me, they took my dignity from me," Lyttle, who now works as a landscaper, told the Journal-Constitution. "I'm going to do to them what they did to me."

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