The ACLU is filing a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement alleging unlawful detention of a Somali national.
In the suit, attorneys say Portland, Maine resident Abdigani Faisal Hussein has been held for more than six months at a Dover jail, which contracts with ICE to house immigration detainees.
"That is a big issue,” says SangYeob Kim, an Immigration Legal Fellow with the ACLU of New Hampshire and co-counsel on the case. “With this detention, it could go almost indefinitely, we do not know [until] when it's going to continue."
At the heart of the suit is whether or not the government can block release on bond for detainees convicted of certain offenses, even if those convictions came years ago. In Hussein's case, that's a drug offense from sixteen years ago. It involved khat, a mild stimulant chewed or brewed in tea by many Somalis.
Hussein’s lawyers say he came to the U.S. legally in 1996 as a refugee and has three daughters who are American citizens.
“Absent relief from this court, Mr. Hussein -- and others like him -- may spend months or even years in detention while their immigration cases proceed, without even the chance to be considered for release on bond,” Hussein’s attorneys write in court documents filed this week.
“There are other detained immigrants in Dover, New Hampshire who are falling into a very similar situation,” says Kim.
This is the second immigration lawsuit brought forward after the ACLU expanded its Immigrants’ Rights Project to New Hampshire.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a similar case involving indefinite detention Wednesday.
That case will be one of newly-confirmed justice Brett Kavanaugh's first major cases.
ICE declined a request for comment citing pending litigation.