CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Patrick Lewis is a proud American.
“This is the land of liberty, the land of opportunity and I wanted to realize the American dream,” he says.
Lewis came to America in 1986 from Guyana, South America.
“The economic conditions in the Caribbean are vastly different than in the United States. In the United States, there is a great prospect with respect to education, among other things. If I was back in Guyana, I don’t think I would have been privileged to go to college. I was able to go to college here and graduate,” Lewis said.
He pursued his dream and went to work in the banking industry on Wall Street and in 1996 realized yet another dream when he became a Naturalized American Citizen.
Life was going as planned, until the recession hit in 2007 and Patrick lost his job with a local bank here in Charlotte. Patrick’s search for work was immediate and he applied for more than 27 jobs.
“Several companies offered me positions and jobs, but apparently after checking my background, I was denied.”
Denied because he popped up as an unlawful illegal alien.
After 16 years of waving the red white and blue, Patrick was stunned.
“I don’t know what happened, I’m just confused, I don’t know,” he said. “No one seems to know.”
Patrick chased the error back to a national crime computer update in 2009. He sent letters to Immigration, Homeland Security, the FBI, and Charlotte Congresswoman Sue Myrick.
Rep. Myrick went to bat for Patrick last fall, requesting “the erroneous information be removed from the FBI and NCIC database.”
“Nothing has changed on my profile,” he said. That means Patrick can’t work. Not being able to find work was one problem, not being able to leave the country for his father’s death was heartbreak.
“My father passed away in September of 2011, and because of my situation, I was not able to attend his funeral in Guyana.”
The I-TEAM went to work for Patrick to right this wrong. NewsChannel 36 called the FBI three times, Immigration in Miami three times and had a lengthy talk with Congresswoman Myrick’s office, which wrote a second letter for Patrick.
Then suddenly and without explanation from Homeland Security, the mistake was corrected quietly.
Patrick Lewis is a U.S. citizen once again.
NewsChannel 36 contacted Immigration in Miami was told a fourth time, the mistake was not theirs, that it was the FBI computer.
An FBI media spokesperson told NewsChannel 36 that the NCIC only inputs the data it is given, it does not assign status.
Lewis told NewsChannel 36 that it was an Immigration official here in Charlotte that fixed the error.