US Marshals in Houston are arresting residents who are behind on paying their student loan debt.
Paul Aker told Fox 26 Houston that he was arrested by seven deputies with automatic weapons—for a $1,500 student loan he received back in 1987.
“I was wondering, ‘Why are you here? I’m home and I haven’t done anything… Why are the Marshals knocking on my door?’ It’s amazing,” he said.
Mr Aker says he was arrested without being read his rights, placed in shackles and taken to the downtown federal courthouse where he spent several hours in a holding cell.
Later, he was taken to court surrounded by "70 Marshals" where he was made to sign a payment agreement.
Representative Gene Green said that it’s troubling to see private debt collectors use US Marshals to go after people who owe student loans.
“There's bound to be a better way to collect on a student loan debt that is so old,” Mr Green told Fox. “The federal government is now using private debt collectors to go after those who owe student loans.”
The US Marshals issued a statement on Tuesday saying that they were required to serve a civil process to Mr Aker as directed by the federal courts.
“Since November 2012, US Marshals had made several attempts to serve a show cause order to Paul Aker to appear in federal court, including searching at numerous known addresses. Marshals spoke with Aker by phone and requested he appear in court, but Aker refused. A federal judge then issued a warrant for Aker's arrest for failing to appear at a December 14, 2012, hearing,” they said in a statement on Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“It is the responsibility of the US Marshals to serve civil processes at direction of the federal courts. These civil processes include summonses for individuals to appear in court to address delinquent federal loans, including student, agricultural and other loans made by federal agencies.”
A source familiar with the US Marshals in Houston told the news station that nearly 1,500 warrants will be served to folks who are behind on payments.