An American citizen with disabilities who was deported and left to wander in Central America for months will receive a six-figure payout from the U.S. government, lawyers say.
Mark Lyttle, who has bipolar disorder and cognitive disabilities, will receive $175,000 in damages from the federal government, his attorneys say.
The settlement comes after Lyttle who was born in North Carolina and has no ties to Mexico, was referred to federal immigration officials in 2008 suspected of being an undocumented immigrant from south of the border.
Without the aid of a lawyer, Lyttle was convinced to sign a document admitting that he was from Mexico. He was then deported, ultimately spending 125 days wandering through Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua where he slept in streets and endured abuse, according to lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union who represent Lyttle.
Eventually, Lyttle was able to return to the United States with the aid of a U.S. embassy official in Guatemala.
“What happened to Mark Lyttle is outrageous and unconstitutional,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “People with mental disabilities are entitled to due process in immigration court, and it is fundamentally unfair, as well as inhumane, to force them to endure such proceedings alone, without the assistance of a lawyer.”