When he was in prison, Lorenzo Palma strongly suspected he was an American citizen. He had spent his whole life in the United States, and he knew his grandfather was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1914.
Palma had served five years for an assault conviction and was about to be released on parole, but immigration officials had stopped his release because they wanted to deport him. They said he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
So in the summer of 2014, Palma found himself among dozens of inmates about to face an immigration judge in Huntsville, Texas. “They would sit us by groups of 10 and they would start deporting left and right,” he said.