Decorated Combat Photographer Arrested For Checking Wrong Box On Passport

In Jacksonville, Florida, a decorated Army combat photographer has been arrested and is facing 10 years in jail for checking a wrong box on a passport application. Elisha Dawkins’ crime was merely checking a box “no” for the question, “Have you ever applied before?”

It turns out that Dawkins started to fill out a passport application in 2004, but didn’t complete it. He then completed a form two years later. He received the passport but the government then issued a warrant for his arrest. What is astonishing is not only that the State Department would push for such an arrest but prosecutors would move forward with the case.

If there is something more to this case, the State Department needs to make it known. Otherwise, this appears a case of grotesque prosecution for a simple mistake.

Source: News4

19 thoughts on “Decorated Combat Photographer Arrested For Checking Wrong Box On Passport”

  1. As a military veteran myself, I say that Mr. Dawkins deserves a break. Drop all charges and help him work towards becoming a full U.S. citizen.

  2. If he joined the military and served this country, then he deserves to be her as much as anyone else.

  3. bdaman,

    Rules is rules–as they say. I do, however, believe this to be an exceptional case–one that deserves a more thoughtful consideration by the State Department. We have war criminals and banksters living the good life in this country–people who have done great harm to our nation. What has Elisha Dawkins done that is so terribly wrong that he should face deportation? He seems to me to be just the kind of person that I’d be happy to call a fellow citizen.

  4. Bdaman,

    He didn’t know that he wasn’t legally a citizen. As Elaine M.’s post stated, he was brought here illegally by his mother when he was an infant and raised believing he was a citizen. So, how again was he supposed to know?

  5. Thanks for the links Ms. Elaine. As you may or may not know Jacksonville is my home town and we have a huge military community here.

    Where was he from ?

    Cross posted from Illegal Immigrant thread

    Bdaman 1, June 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

    O.S. I’m sorry, I respect and appreciate your comments but IMO if you are not here legally you are not afforded the same rights as others that are here legally. It pisses me off that a double standard applies. You can cross the Mexican Border illegally but if you are Cuban,Haitian,Bahamian or other trying to make it here by sea you have to have dry feet even though you were captured in state waters. What about those people?

    Need I say more.

  6. jim johnson:

    “How many Americans join the armed services? The answer is 9%. So there is 91% of Americans that haven’t given a oath to defend there country.”


    Actually, they’ve sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States. The same oath we lawyers take. We are a nation of laws and our oaths, unlike those of many nations, reflect that.

  7. So you can fight and die for a country but they find out that (oopps) your not from here under a technically that you never knew about and you’ll get arrested and detained. How many Americans join the armed services? The answer is 9%. So there is 91% of Americans that haven’t given a oath to defend there country. Where were you when this man was joining the armed services to fight for the country he believed he was a citizen of?

    Wait you had no problem but as soon as you find out that maybe he has lived here under false ideas that he never knew about after he defend our country that you think to arrest him and question his motives. This is wrong!

  8. rafflaw,

    If you follow the link, you’ll find a video news story about Elisha Dawkins:

    U.S. Army Vet faces deportation

    ATLANTA — Elisha Dawkins is facing deportation and a decade behind bars. His is not the usual deportation case. He is studying to be a nurse, he’s a U.S. Army veteran who was in the Navy reserves when he was arrested for what his attorney calls an innocent oversight.

    Dawkins thought he was born in America. U.S. immigration officials say he wasn’t. He was born in the Bahamas and brought here by his mother. She was deported but his attorney says Dawkins had a social security card and a Florida birth certificate to bolster his belief.

    We spoke with Jake Birchfield, a Delta flight attendant who lives in Atlanta. He served with the friend he calls Leo in the Navy Reserves.

    Birchfield says he understands rules but this should be a special case. “He has done more for this country than most people will in their lifetimes and he’s a young man. The fact that he has gone to the front lines to fight for our country. The government needs to say this is a mistake”.

    US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida agrees, taking to the Senate floor Wednesday saying, “The U.S. military was certainly glad to consider him a citizen. The Dream Act would allow the U.S, government to consider as a citizen someone like Elisha Dawkins who came to this country as a child and wanted to serve his country.”

  9. This is an amazing story. How can this guy go to jail or get deported merely because he checked off the wrong box? What difference does it make even if he had applied before? I don’t get it. This guy is a hero and fought for this country and he is being treated like a criminal.

  10. From the Professors posting: “If there is something more to this case, the State Department needs to make it known. Otherwise, this appears a case of grotesque prosecution for a simple mistake.”


    The grotesque prosecution of simple mistakes (of which we have seen many cross these blawg pages) makes its own point if that’s the point the government wants to make. I think the point is perfectly clear.

  11. Frankly this is scary and to me personally. I’ve never had a passport in my 66 years, having only travelled to places where I didn’t need one. Given that today I’d need one to again visit Canada, which I love, I’ve been thinking of getting one. Have I ever applied for one before, I don’t think so, but then again perhaps I did.
    Doesn’t the State Department have enough needed work to do without engaging in bureaucratic pettigoggery? Apparently not. This is chilling and I don’t mean in its current connotation.

  12. Elisha Dawkins, Iraq War Vet Discovered To Be An Illegal Immigrant, Gets A Deal
    Miami Herald

    Elisha Dawkins immigrated to Miami from the Bahamas as a young boy. It was only until after he served in both the Army and Navy and found himself in jail on a passport flap that he discovered that he was not a legal citizen. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami has offered a deal to Dawkins that would settle the passport charges, but he could still face deportation.

    Dawkins was indicted back in March while serving with the Navy in Guantanamo Bay for lying on a passport application. He checked a box assuring that he had never applied for a passport before, but actually had started a passport application the year before but never finished it. It was only then that Dawkins and the military discovered that he was not a U.S. citizen. Dawkins was raised believing he was a citizen. How he received a social security number is still unclear. He’s sat in a Miami jail since his arrest.

    According to The New York Times, prosecutors will drop the passport charges if Dawkins agrees to enter a pretrial diversion program and completes a term of probation. The move is rare, but if Dawkins was convicted of a felony it would preclude him from becoming an actual citizen. An attorney in the Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Dawkins’ military service led to the uncommon step.

    Though, the deal would not ultimately protect Dawkins from deportation, and he must now fight a separate legal battle to obtain citizenship and stay in the country for which he served as a decorated member of the military.

  13. Jacksonville Iraq War Veteran Faces Deportation

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just last year Elisha Dawkins was getting pinned, having just graduated from the FSCJ school of nursing. His plan was to take the boards after he returned from his deployment to Guantanamo Bay.

    That plan changed, though, when he was arrested upon his return in April. Immigration officials said there was a problem with Dawkins’ passport paperwork. They said he checked the box stating he never applied for a passport before, when in fact he had.

    “We were all like, ‘He was arrested for what?'” said FSCJ classmate Diane Rinehardt.

    Rinehardt was friends with Dawkins and was planning a reunion for the whole class in August.

    “We found out it was over a passport, and we’re like, you’re kidding, right?”

    It’s definitely not a joke, considering he’s been in a Miami detention center for two months now. He’s facing felony charges, but that may not be the worst of it.

    “While he is in jail they found out he wasn’t actually born in the United States,” Rinehardt said.

    Turns out immigration officials found that Dawkins was actually brought to the United States by his mom as an infant. She was later deported, but he was allowed to stay.

    Dawkins was raised by other family members, always being told that he was born in the U.S.

    He even had a Florida birth certificate and social security number. He served in Iraq in the Army and has since joined the Air National Guard.

    Because they found he is not a citizen, he now faces deportation. And that has the attention of Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

  14. The govt. is weak. Why not just drone the m-f? Obviously, he was collaborating with terrorists by taking pictures of our troops and putting those pictures in the public domain. I just can’t understand it. It’s a total waste of resources to arrest him when he was so evidently guilty. Off with his head! (I am only sightly exaggerating here. Let me explain by siting the new terrorism policy of the US govt. 1. arrest peaceful protesters in the Gaza flotilla and 2. in the govt.’s own words: ” WASHINGTON — The United States vowed Wednesday to pursue the “utter destruction” of Al-Qaeda, while refocusing its counter-terrorism strategy to combat the
    threat of home-grown terror.”

    Fucking fascists.

  15. Dredd – You just noticed? I have been trying to game a return to sanity for a few years and just don’t see a way back in my life time.

    If 30 years of proof that tax cuts do not pay for themselves and do not create jobs has not convinced sentient beings everywhere of the obvious not much will. If people are only concerned about the erosion of personal freedom when a Dem is in the White House after the monumental rape of 2000-2006 when the cheered it on how do we recover?

  16. He photographs war crimes … then … oh never mind … the freaking country is going tits up nuts.

  17. So if this person is prosecuted for an “innocent mistake” will Clarence Thomas be prosecuted for the same? Hmmm…belies dual standards…..

  18. I would like to know a lot more before condemnation, but on its face it does appear absurd. However, it is hard to imagine that both State Department officials and the US Attorney’s office are both so dense. The lack of a makeable bond in the case is disturbing.

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