A Briton who has lived and worked legally in America for 35 years, married a US citizen and raised three children there, has been locked up in a New Jersey jail after falling victim to a draconian immigration crackdown prompted by the Sept 11 2001 terror attacks.
Paul Clements, 58, a permanent US resident and former tour manager for bands such as the Rolling Stones and Dire Straits, is threatened with expulsion from his adopted homeland after his passport and green card were confiscated following a work trip abroad.
He now spends his days in a khaki prison jumpsuit as his case works its way through the US legal system and his wife and teenage daughter were reduced to tears when they saw him chained and in handcuffs in a recent court appearance.
"I was brought up to believe my country practised the rule of law and I'm just stunned that Clem is being treated like this," said his American wife Robin Schwartz, 59 a wedding photographer, at the family home in the quiet New Jersey commuter town of Sparta last week.
"If it wasn't so upsetting, it would be like something out of Monty Python. When I visit him, it's just like the movies. We are separated by flexiglass and have to shout through slats to talk to each other. It's soul-destroying."
The turmoil in their lives has its roots in a night out with friends at a local pub in 2002. On the way home, Mr Clements, a manager at a large events production company, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and police found a third of a joint of marijuana in his car.
He was fined, put on a year's probation and ordered to attend drug information classes as punishment for possession of 0.8 grams of marijuana, an amount so small that the authorities would not prosecute in many American cities, including neighbouring New York.
The offence did not leave him subject to the threat of deportation and he thought no more of the incident, even as he flew in and out of the country on subsequent trips overseas. But in late-May, he was held for several hours at New York's Kennedy airport as he arrived home from a work trip to Italy.
For the Department of Homeland Security, the mammoth and powerful government agency created to defend America after the al Qaeda terrorist atrocities in 2001, has been updating its computer records to include thousands of offences committed by foreign residents (known as "aliens" in official US parlance).
And although Mr Clements could not be deported for his offence, any conviction for controlled substance is cause for immigration authorities to refuse an arriving alient entry to the US.
He was eventually allowed into the country but ordered to return to the airport for what is known as a "deferred inspection". On the second such trip, on Nov 12, he was arrested, handcuffed and taken away to an immigration jail in New Jersey.
"I just could not believe this was happening to me," Mr Clements told The Sunday Telegraph in a collect call from prison. "I made a mistake and paid my penalty for the offence in 2002. I pay my taxes here, I own a house here, I have a good job here and I've raised a family and put my kids through college here.
"And suddenly I found myself in prison because of something that did not involve a day in jail at the time. It's classic double jeopardy and I just can't believe this is happening over a third of a joint."
Worse was to come on Nov 24 when Mr Clements appeared in an immigration court for a bail hearing arranged by his lawyer. The room was packed with his friends, family and colleagues who hoped he would be freed pending the immigration hearing, but the judge ruled that he was subject to mandatory detention until his case is heard – in March at the earliest.
His attorney, Michael DiRaimondo, is now attempting to arrange a deal with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials for him to receive parole so that he can spend Christmas with his family.
"This is just ludicrous," said Mr DiRaimondo, a former immigration service prosecutor. "It's crazy that a man like Clem is in detention because of such a minor offence for which he paid his debt to society. It's not deportable but he is deemed inadmissible for entry. It makes no sense but it's typical of what's been happening since 9/11."
He said Mr Clements' case was by no means isolated, although it was one of the more extreme examples. "There are thousands of other cases that are floating around the system where foreigners with often minor convictions have been coming in and out of the country thinking they are fine. But they're not and ICE is catching up with them. It's getting out of control."
America has of course always been adverse to admitting anyone with criminal records, especially when it comes to drugs. Most famously, John Lennon fought deportation proceedings for four years during the 1970s over his 1968 misdemeanour conviction for cannabis possession in London.
But Mr DiRaimondo said the trend has become much more dramatic in recent years. "It's on an entirely different scale now," he said.
Mr Clements, who was born in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, met his future wife when he was a 21-year-old backpacking around the US. They married four months later and he moved to America, working first as a "roadie" for rock groups and later becoming a tour manager for some of the world's biggest bands.
Mr DiRaimondo is confident that when the case eventually comes before an immigration judge, he will be able to win the right for Mr Clements to remain there – with his family, job and home – on various legal precedents, including length of residence.
An ICE spokesman said: "ICE abides by a very strict set of detention standards when detaining aliens. ICE officers routinely review detention cases in order to determine whether or not continued detention is required.
"ICE in some cases does allow individuals to be free from custody while awaiting their immigration court hearings. When making custody determinations, ICE considers all factors of the case."
By Philip Sherwell in New York
Last Updated: 2:41PM GMT 06 Dec 2008
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