Somali-American Files Suit Claiming Unlawful Detainment After Being Held for Months Despite Being a U.S. Citizen

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After holding an American citizen in ICE custody for 11 months with threats to deport him, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is taking the federal government to court for an unlawful detainment.

Ali Abdalla came to the US from Somalia as a child refugee. He then gained his citizenship when his father became a citizen in 2003, as regards to the constitutional rights nonprofit. Yet, immigration officials arrested him in July 2017 despite Abdalla telling them that he’s a citizen severally.

Abdalla said through his attorneys: “I was scared. My freedom was taken from me. I don’t like to remember that part of my life.”

Meanwhile, immigration Judge Ryan Wood called for Abdalla’s release seven months into his confinement after ascertaining he was indeed a U.S. citizen. However, ICE appealed the ruling and held the man for five additional months until his lawyer won his release in July 2018, the suit states

Abdalla, who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, reiterated: “I was shocked that my government would do this. I felt like I was nobody. They took me away from my family, everything I know. I might not see my kids ever again, my mom, my dad. It was horrible.”

As he filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, he alleges false arrest, false imprisonment, and deprivation of liberty, in addition to violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The complaint in his suit named so many defendants, including U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and several other federal officials.

Image Credit: MN ACLU

In Ian Bratlie’s statement, a staff attorney with ACLU-Minnesota, he said: “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.”

The complaint’s lawyers said Abdalla has previously suffered a traumatic brain injury in a work accident, which was worsened by his illegal arrest and imprisonment. He was also reportedly moved to three different jails during his detention period. Also, he was given anti-anxiety medication for his injury-related mental health issues. Again, he was denied meds when ICE officials transferred him from Minnesota’s Noble County Jail to the Sherburne County jail.

In addition, Bratlie said: “It was pretty rough on him. The fact that they held him even after a judge told them he was a U.S. citizen is egregious.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for ICE refused to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Abdalla added further: “It’s good to make the government aware they cannot do this,” explaining the reseasons for his complaint. “They’ll keep doing it if I don’t. They’ll do it to the next guy,” he said.

Moreover, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages per se.

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