According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the man known as Charley Saturmin Robinet was ordered deported in April 2013. But ICE officials say they weren't able to remove him from the country.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice in Los Angeles wrote in an emailed statement:
"Initially, ICE sought to obtain a travel document from French consular representatives based on the subject’s claims of French citizenship. French consular representatives initially issued one, but then rescinded it after determining the subject was, in fact, a national of Cameroon."
Kice said attempts to obtain travel documents from Cameroon went nowhere because "Cameroonian authorities repeatedly failed to respond to requests for a travel document."
According to Kice, Robinet was released from the agency's custody under an order of supervision in November 2013, which required him to check in with ICE agents periodically.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Zadvydas vs. Davis, factored into the decision. The ruling provides only a limited amount of time for immigration authorities to detain immigrants with a final deportation order if there is no country that will accept them.
"Per the Supreme Court ruling, after 180 days of detention, if the actual removal cannot occur within the reasonably foreseeable future, ICE must release the individual," Kice wrote.
According to Kice, Robinet complied with his supervision order and regularly reported to ICE officials as required. His next scheduled check-in date was to have been March 5.