ST. PAUL — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the federal government for holding a U.S. citizen living in Minnesota in Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) custody for 11 months.
According to a Thursday, March 26, news release from the nonpartisan litigating group, Ali Abdalla sought refuge in the United States from Somalia, and was granted citizenship in 2003. Fourteen years later in 2017, ICE arrested him and threatened deportation despite Abdalla's citizenship status.
ACLU-MN alleges that ICE broke the law by holding Abdalla for 11 months in three different jails, and never properly investigating whether he was a citizen. They also allege that one Minnesota county jail failed to give Abdalla his necessary anxiety medication, causing additional distress.
ACLU-MN claims immigration officials violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, and falsely arrested and imprisoned Abdalla. The lawsuit says that what happened to Abdalla was a "consequence of official policies, patterns, practices, and customs that manifest not only intentional discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and religion as well as disregard of basic principles of due process, but also a reckless disregard for human life and liberty."
While he was in detention, the ACLU-MN said an immigration judge ruled that Abdalla was a citizen and moved to terminate his removal proceedings. But ICE appealed the ruling and held onto Abdalla for five more months.
“Every single step of Ali Abdalla’s journey presented an opportunity for ICE to do the right thing and release an American citizen who they shouldn’t have been holding in the first place,” ACLU-MN staff attorney Ian Bratlie said in Thursday's release. “Instead, ICE’s shocking and callous refusal to release an American citizen or even investigate, in violation of their own policies, is a gross miscarriage of justice that shocks the conscience and violates our Constitution.”
Filed in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Thursday, Ali Abdalla v. United States et al. names U.S. Attorney General William Barr, heads of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE officials and Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott as defendants.