Elisha Dawkins in a photo from nursing school here in Jacksonville
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.
"Our military was certainly glad to consider him a citizen," Nelson said on the Senate floor. "The Dream Act would allow the U.S. government to consider as a citizen someone like Elisha Dawkins who was brought here as a child and wanted to serve this country."
Rinehardt and her classmates have put together a Facebook page to support Dawkins while he's in jail. He is still waiting on $10,000 to get out on bail.
Click here to go to the Facebook page
First Coast News