Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Puerto Rican Man Detained By ICE

Eduardo Caraballo claims he was racially profiled when police detained him for days in order to verify his legal status, despite the fact that he is Puerto Rican.

In the suburban town of Berwyn, outside of Chicago, the police entered a school owned by Caraballo’s mother and found a stolen vehicle, which Caraballo claimed he was storing for a friend.

He was taken into police custody. However after 48 hours he was interviewed by an ICE agent, and then taken into a correctional facility.  “She did not believe I was Puerto Rican because of the way I look and the way I talk,” he said. “I guess I have a Mexican accent.”

His mother brought his birth certificate to show he was born in Puerto Rico, making him a U.S. citizen. Still agents asked him to describe his life in Puerto Rico, which the 32-year-old man left at the age of 18. Dissatisfied by his account, agents decided to detain him over the weekend and finally released him on Monday, May 24.

Being caught with a stolen vehicle is certainly grounds for being taken into police custody. But on what basis do the police decide he “looks illegal”? And how is it that a birth certificate is not enough to prove one’s citizenship?

Representatives for ICE contend, “This individual was held in local law enforcement custody over the weekend on an ICE detainer based on initially available information that he was an alien subject to deportation. ICE took custody of him on Monday morning and released him within one hour, after his identity was verified, and the ICE detainer was canceled.”

However attorney Chris Bergin, who has expressed interest in taking up Caraballo’s case, argues, “That is an example of what we’re facing as we see a broken immigration system…when it comes to Latinos, what has happened is they have flipped the coin on its head: the burden of proof now is on them to prove that they are legal, that they are citizens. … That is not what America is about.”

Jacqueline Stevens, professor of political science at Northwestern University told CNN that through her research discovered that approximately 4,000 of the 400,000 people detained by ICE were U.S. citizens and had been detained on average from 1 to 3 months.


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Brenda P.
Brenda P.5 years ago

I see nothing that ICE did wrong!! Illegal has ruin are country. They are breaking the law!!

Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

Sad to say but this story just illustrates how if you're Hispanic, you're still and always will be subject to suspicion and racism. There is so much nationalism, protectionism and racism in this country and especially anti-Hisapanic sentiment that all Hispanics regardless of country of origin andlegal status are being vilified and labeled as a public and national threat. Guilty until proven innocent may be how other countries (particularly communist, autocratic and third world countries) carry out their justice but that's not how it's done in the United States. At least it shouldn't be. But minorities (Hispanics in particular) know there are two kinds of justice: one for minorities and one for everybody else. The same applies to those that are poor or disadvantaged, regardless of race or origin.

Lilliana G.
Lilliana Garcia5 years ago

eso estubo muy bueno, y ahora manden a todos los ilegales de regreso, y que los que se quejan tanto y no quieren a los ilegales , desempenen el trabajo de ellos jajaj ya los quiero ver alli van a rogar que los traigan de regreso ...rasistas culpan a los ilegales de todo ojala, me gustaria que ese puerto riqueno los demandara, a mi me gustaria que me arrestara inmigracion, demanda la que voy a ponerles

robert p.
robert p.5 years ago

well it is official now, our tax dollars being wasted for what the feds could but would not do... Go Arizona we support you. amnesty supporters all need to be jailed on treason charges. you people make me sick, humanity for everyone but your fellow citizens, shame on you all, please leave the country, how unpatriotic can you all be? we have laws, illegals chose to ignore them. so they reap what they sow. if i did something wrong and went to jail, I would not recieve such special treatments. why should they? please, the over religious BS of open boarders ect is garbage, it can not not will never work, that is a fantisy. come back to the real world. every country has immigration laws!! why is that? they work if enforced, as ours are not and see the problems we have. get a grip on reality and life. you people should send me your addresses so i know where to move when i become homeless, oh thats right i am a citizen, so i am not worthy. lmfao, what pieces of garbage you all realy are !! how do you sleep at night???

Alex M.
Past Member 5 years ago

The possibility of being in possession of stolen item(s) has NOTHING to do with immigration. Nothing at all other than opinion and 'feelings', and that has no place in a legal situation such as this.

Photo-ID/driver's license does NOT show 'citizenship', afaik. It shows that a State gives its permission to drive upon roadways (etc), and a 'plain' ID (non-driving) only states that the State says ~ that the person shown upon the 'ID' gave the info listed upon it. I am sure that an ID is as easily forged as a birth certificate, so a good strawman argument there at most ;-) Couldn't that so-called fake birth certificate (right, MaryC?) be valid for a photo-ID that supposedly would have saved the fellow the jail-time??

If only willful ignorance was actionable..... (legally speaking, of course).

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS5 years ago

What happened to "innocent until proved guilty"?

Craig Chmiel
Craig C.5 years ago

Because he was only holding it for a friend (sic).

robert p.
robert p.5 years ago


Mary C.
Mary C.5 years ago

"when it comes to Latinos, what has happened is they have flipped the coin on its head: the burden of proof now is on them to prove that they are legal, that they are citizens."

Who is it up to, to prove your own identity, and that you are legal?? Santa Clause? Its as simple as having an ID or drivers license. We do not need to get into all this other BS. If you cannot get a drivers license, get a state ID. Not asking much there folks.

Mary C.
Mary C.5 years ago

Alex, a birth certificate someone runs out and gets while you are being detained is not proper photo ID. And possession of a stolen vehicle is a felony. So being he has never been in Puerto Rico according to you, he should have no Spanish accent.

It could be possible there was an asshole cop or two, but the facts are he committed a felony, and did NOT have a PHOTO ID.