United States District Court, D. Connecticut
WAYNE D. GRAY, Plaintiff,
JAY R. WESELMANN, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
frightening to think that our Government may mistakenly
deport people who are actually U.S. citizens. It is
frightening but not unheard of. See Jacqueline
Stevens, U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and
Deporting U.S. Citizens as Aliens, 18 Va. J. Soc.
Pol'y & L. 606 (2011) (empirical study of incidence
of wrongful removal of U.S. citizens).
Wayne D. Gray is a U.S. citizen. He was born in Jamaica and
came with his parents to the United States as a child. While
still a child and living with his father, he became a citizen
by automatic operation of law when his father naturalized as
a U.S. citizen in January 1990. Unfortunately, plaintiff did
not know that. Nor did the INS or even plaintiff's own
immigration lawyer realize plaintiff's true status when
he was deported to Jamaica in 1998 after having been
convicted for a robbery.
soon found his way back into the United States. But he was
arrested again in 2012, and this time the federal government
criminally charged him with unlawful reentry into the United
States. It was a charge based in no small part on
plaintiff's sworn statement to federal agents that he was
illegally here in the United States. Only after plaintiff
pleaded guilty to the charge and was awaiting sentencing did
one of plaintiff's criminal defense attorneys realize
that plaintiff may in truth be a U.S. citizen.
prompted a further investigation by immigration authorities
that eventually validated plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff
was released from prison, and the prosecution was dropped.
free man, plaintiff has sued the United States under the
Federal Tort Claims Act. He alleges multiple tort claims
including false arrest/imprisonment, malicious prosecution,
negligence, and negligent/intentional infliction of emotional
United States has moved for summary judgment. It readily
concedes that plaintiff is a U.S. citizen but maintains
nonetheless that its agents had probable cause for
plaintiff's arrest, detention, and prosecution. I agree.
Therefore, I conclude that the motion for summary judgment
must be granted.
immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1982 when
he was 8 years old, and he became a lawful permanent
resident. His parents soon divorced in 1986. On January 19,
1990, his father naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Although no
one seemed to realize it at the time (not least of all
plaintiff himself), the consequence of his father's
naturalization was that plaintiff also derivatively became a
U.S. citizen by operation of law, because plaintiff was
living with his father at the time and was still a minor.
See 8 U.S.C. § 1432(a) (now repealed); see
also Gil v. Sessions, --- F.3d ---, 2017 WL 1032575, at
*2 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting and discussing former derivative
citizenship statute that was repealed in 2000).
after plaintiff turned 18 years old, he was convicted of
robbery in a Connecticut state court. After plaintiff served
several years in prison for this robbery, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS) placed plaintiff into
deportation (removal) proceedings in 1995.
proceedings were premised on a mistaken assumption that
plaintiff was not a U.S. citizen. During those deportation
proceedings, INS agents completed a Record of Deportable
Alien, which consisted of notes discussing plaintiff's
history. This record states in part: “Alienage and
deportability established. . . . Subject is a 21 year old
native and citizen of Jamaica. . . . Subject's parents
are both [naturalized] [United States citizens (USC)]. Mother
became USC on 9/4/92. Subject did not derive.” Doc.
#42-3 at 15. Another note in the Record of Deportable Alien
created during plaintiff's removal proceedings states:
“Lives w/ mother. Father left mother in 1987.”
Id. at 18. In short, these notes reflect a belief
that plaintiff had lived with his mother (not his father)
before he turned 18 years old, and therefore that he had not
derived U.S. citizenship because his mother did not
naturalize as a U.S. citizen until after plaintiff turned 18
basis of this information, the INS issued an order to show
cause alleging that plaintiff was not a citizen of the United
States, and alleging that his robbery conviction rendered him
deportable. Id. at 9-10. Despite being represented
by an attorney at the time, plaintiff conceded the charge.
Rather than contest plaintiff's deportability,
plaintiff's lawyer requested discretionary relief from
deportation, which relief was denied. Plaintiff was ordered
removed from the United States to Jamaica on May 22, 1996.
represented by counsel, plaintiff appealed his order of
removal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Again, he
did not claim that he was actually a U.S. citizen. After the
BIA affirmed the order of removal, plaintiff's counsel
continued plaintiff's appeals: he moved to reopen with
the BIA, appealed the BIA's reaffirmance of the appeal to
the Second Circuit, filed a motion for stay of deportation,
and filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal
court. During all of this time, from 1995 through 1998,
plaintiff and his counsel continued to concede
plaintiff's status as a Jamaican citizen. Plaintiff was
finally deported in 1998, after he indicated that he no
longer wanted to fight his case and wished to return to
soon returned incognito to the United States in 1999. But
more than ten years later, he was arrested in North Carolina
in 2012 on a warrant for identity theft. This arrest in turn
prompted a federal criminal prosecution against him for
unlawful reentry after deportation. Plaintiff was transferred
to immigration custody where he met with Special Agent Bryan
Moultis of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He told
Agent Moultis that he was a Jamaican national who had been
previously ordered removed from the United States by an
immigration judge pursuant to an order of removal. He
explained that he was ...