HOUSTON (CN) - In a perfect immigration nightmare, a U.S. citizen claims the Department of Homeland Security arrested her in her own home, imprisoned, threatened and intimidated her and denied her food, water and medication unless she admitted she was someone else. Then it deported her to Honduras, where she was immediately imprisoned as an illegal alien, held in prison for 3 weeks and sexually assaulted by "an officer of the Honduran government." Even after she returned home, she says, U.S. immigration agents continue to harass her and threaten to arrest her again.
Diane Williams, 35, "a natural-born citizen of the United States," claims she was arrested in her Houston home on Jan. 18, 2009, by "a Special Agent of the Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (hereinafter 'ICE') by the name of Rolando Jimenez, and other unidentified ICE agents."
Williams says she showed the agents her Louisiana birth certificate, but they arrested her anyway, and accused her of Angelique Bethany Cortez Rodriguez, a citizen of Honduras. She claims the "ICE officers made no attempt whatsoever to verify the plaintiff's claim to U.S. citizenship," but took her to the prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America, on a contract with DHS.
The agents did this though she "repeatedly informed the arresting officers that she was a United States citizen and offered the names and contact numbers of several family members who could confirm her identity," Williams says.
Inside the CCA prison, Williams says, she was denied prescribed medications for seizures, asthma and emotional disorders. She says that after 3 days she was allowed to take medication for asthmas and seizures, "but was denied the medications for her emotional disorders by officials of the Public Health Service."
Also inside the prison, Williams says, she "was interviewed in a hostile, threatening and aggressive manner by various ICE officers including Rolando Jimenez, Tak Wong, and other unidentified officers."
The complaint continues: "She was awakened and interrogated in the middle of the night, denied food and water, and held in holding cells at extremely low temperatures and without functional plumbing for hours.
"Plaintiff was told by Officer Rolando Jimenez and Officer Tak Wong that she would be jailed for four years and still deported if she refused to admit that she was 'Angelique Bethany Cortez Rodriguez, and a citizen of Honduras."
Afraid of spending 4 years in prison, "and in an unstable mental state due to the denial of her medications," Williams says she signed the statement. Three weeks later she was deported to Honduras.
"Plaintiff did not have legal representation at any point during this process, and was effectively denied from seeking legal counsel due to her detention and repeated placement in solitary confinement," she says. Nor did ICE follow the proper procedure and ask the Honduran Consulate to verify her nationality - which would have short-circuited her ordeal, she says.
The complaint continues: "Shortly after arrival in Honduras, plaintiff was arrested by officials of the Honduran government as an alien and held in custody in that country for approximately three weeks.
"While detained by Honduran officials, she was denied bathing facilities, slept on the floor, was fed irregularly and was sexually assaulted by an officer of the Honduran government."
Finally, 72 days after her nightmare began, "On March 31, 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued plaintiff a U.S. passport after receiving her birth certificate from her family in the United States and investigating to their satisfaction her claim to U.S. citizenship.
"She was given a loan by the U.S. Embassy in Honduras for half of the purchase price of a ticket to the United States (her family paid the other half), and returned legally to the United States through the Miami port of entry on March 31, 2009.
"After returning to the United States Plaintiff has been subject to continuing harassment and abuse by officers acting under the authority of ICE and other government agencies, in spite of demonstrating evidence of her status as a citizen of the United States, including the continued existence of an immigration warrant encouraging her arrest by any law enforcement agency in the United States." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Williams seeks damages from the United States of America for negligence, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, assault and malpractice.
She is represented by Lawrence Rushton of Bellaire, Texas.