There’s the attorney-client privilege and the confidence of priest and penitent, but apparently no such expectation of privacy between the president and U.S. citizens. Such was learned the hardest possible way by Caroline Jamieson, who recently penned a personal letter to President Obama pleading for intervention after exhausting legal options available to her husband, a Cameroonian immigrant facing imminent deportation.

The letter’s federal response, however, didn’t come on presidential letterhead, or even as a form letter. Instead, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials showed up outside the couple’s New York apartment, arresting Jamieson’s husband Hervé as he left for the gym. The officers explained their presence owed to Caroline’s letter, and held Hervé, chained and shackled, in a New Jersey jail for felons for over two weeks until he was finally released last Thursday.

Formerly political fans of President Obama, the couple are reported to have begun having second thoughts. Perhaps they should have tried email instead.

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