PrEfaCE: aCE’S Story
The following is a keynote address by Johann “Ace” Francis, a U.S. citizen wrong-
fully deported for ten years to Jamaica, delivered at the “Citizenship- in- Question”
symposium, Boston College Law School, April 19, 2012. Explanatory remarks in
square brackets were inserted from Skype interviews with Mr. Francis by Jacque-
line Stevens on December 21, 2009.
Just being here, in something like this, is huge. I wrote a speech, but it’s hard to
capture ten years of one’s life. You might be asking yourself, how could some-
one get in a situation like this? I was born in Jamaica, but I grew up in Wash-
ington State. My stepfather was in the military so I was in a military family.
And we moved all over the country. I moved there [to Washington] when I was
seven. When you grow up and you think of yourself as an American, you really
don’t think other wise, or to go to immigration when you are fourteen years old
[the year his mother naturalized, thus automatically conferring on Ace his U.S.
citizenship]. I bought a car when I was sixteen. And then when I was eigh teen,
I got in trou ble. It was spring break and we went to Oregon.
I was in high school, ready to gradu ate, and my mother moved to Georgia. I
said, okay, I’ll move down with her when I gradu ate. But, I lost her phone num-
ber. We didn’t have cell phones then. And I lost my pager. I was on a trip to Or-
egon, [to] a town called Seaside. A lot of people [ were there] on spring break.
Two girls in a convertible (two white females) were in this parking lot. My friends
started talking to them. Their boyfriends were pulling in. They were drinking on
the back of a pick-up and came up hostile. Every body got in the ﬁght. The po-
lice came up and every one was trying to leave. When they came around, there
were four of them on top of me in the corner.
I’m in an area where the police know the families of the kids. They [the
district attorney] came to me and said, “Thirty- six months. This is the best