Local soldier talks about his brother's wrongful deportation
By Chauncy Glover
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "Oh my God you're skinny. How long has it been since you've eaten."
A reunion filled with mixed emotions.
There was joy.
"I feel great to see my mom and be back in my country," says Marc Lyttle.
"I've had people looking. Phone calls to North Carolina and searching through the obituaries and calling hospitals," says Marc's mom, Jeanne Lyttle.
And there was anger.
"It was traumatize to me. It was a situation that should have never happened," says Marc.
"I'm outraged. This has got to stop. Just because you look at his color and he looks Caribbean, you don't ship someone out of the country. I don't understand how this could happen over and over again," she says.
31 year- old Marc Lyttle has a mental disorder and recalls to the best of his ability the story that kept him out of the United States for two years.
Family members say it all started in North Carolina-- 2007, when he served time in jail on a harassment charge.
When it came time for him to be released, Lyttle had no identification. He says he was then questioned by an agent with Immigration Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE.
"He stressed he had a mental condition and she still did not let him see his mother or a lawyer," says Neil Rambana, an immigration attorney
Two months later, Lyttle was sent to an Immigration Detention facility in Atlanta, where he went before an immigration judge.
"The judge says according to out records, prepared by the ICE agent, you are not a citizen. You're a Mexican. We are deporting you from the U.S.," says Rambana.
And that's when Lyttle's, big journey began.
December 9th, he flew from Texas to Mexico.
"This particular information is very disturbing. How in the hell did they get travel documents for him to go to Mexico? He's not a Mexican citizen. They basically put together paperwork and dumped in Mexico," says Neil.
While walking the streets of Mexico, Lyttle was picked up by Mexico City Immigration Enforcement and was kicked out of the country and sent to Honduras.
Marc says, "I had no money and no place to stay. I slept on the street. I was put in jail in Honduras for a month for no reason."
Lyttle says the conditions were harsh, while being in jail with other "big time" criminals as he calls them.
"I told them about my mental disorder and Sonya in Honduras, she told a guy in there to kill me because she didn't like American citizens," he adds.
After spending a month in jail, Lyttle was sent to Nicaragua and then sent to Guatemala. It was there when someone believed his story.
"He told them, he was looking for his brother who was in the U.S. military and somebody made that connection," says Marc's mother.
With the help of the U.S. Embassy, Lyttle's family paid for a new passport and a plane ticket to have him sent back to America.
When Marc Lyttle returned back to the United States, he flew into the Atlanta Airport, and once again he was black flagged because he had already been deported once.
"This kid was detained again. No one took the time to make any proper phone calls to family or other agencies to verify the story, instead they just treat this person with a mental disorder like a common criminal," says Neil.
"I lost it and I got on my knees and prayed and asked the lord to deal with everybody," says Jeanne Lyttle.
And Jeanne Lyttle's prayers were answered Friday morning, when ICE officials released Marc from the Atlanta Detention Center. When we contacted ICE officials they released a statement saying, "Immediately upon learning that Mr. Lyttle was claiming U.S. Citizenship and had been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, ICE conducted a thorough investigation and review of his file and all available information. Based upon the available information, ICE concluded that Mr. Lyttle is probably a U.S. citizen. ICE has initiated and will complete all the necessary actions to correct DHS databases."
And after a long two years of trying to get back into his family's arms, Marc Lyttle still has a smile, but also a statement for ICE as well.
"ICE needs to really know what they are doing. They just can't deport anybody and that's what they did to me," says Marc.