Elisha L. Dawkins, the veteran of the U.S. Army and Navy who was jailed on a seemingly minor passport fraud charge only to discover he was not actually a US citizen, has rejected a deal that would see the charges dropped. Now, Dawkins' case will go to trial, and he could see up to ten years in jail and the possibility of deportation.
Dawkins was arrested earlier this year for checking a box claiming he had never applied for a passport before, but had actually begun an application the year before that he never finished. The decorated veteran then found out he was not actually a US citizen.
Dawkins had immigrated to Miami from the Bahamas as a young boy, and was raised believing he was born a US citizen. His citizenship status was never questioned when he joined both the Army and Navy, and he had a Social Security number and a Florida birth certificate.
Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami had offered Dawkins a deal
: they'd drop the passport charges if Dawkins entered a pretrial diversion program and completed a term of probation. Without a felony on his record, his path to legal citizenship would be much smoother.
According to the AP
, Dawkins has rejected that deal and will fight the charges at trial. He could face up to ten years in prison on the charges, and a felony conviction could threaten his fight for legal citizenship.
U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson has stepped into the fight, and is asking officials in the Obama administration to help Dawkins avoid deportation.