DOVER, N.H. – After an ACLU of New Hampshire lawsuit filed on April 25, ICE on Monday released a Somalian immigrant who has been in continuous detention since 2016 – totaling two years and seven months.
Mahamed Ahmed-Cali initially fled Somalia after Al-Shabaab, a militant terrorist group in the country, made threats against his family. He spent about one month of that time in the Strafford County House of Correction in Dover and is expected to remain in New Hampshire while he fights his asylum case.
The U.S. government detained Mr. Ahmed-Cali when he lawfully presented himself at the port of entry in San Diego in 2016 for asylum protection. Since then, ICE has transferred him to numerous immigration detention facilities in Massachusetts, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and finally, New Hampshire.
During this time, he was even subjected to a failed deportation attempt where deportees were reported to be abused for two days, including being shackled and beaten by ICE agents and forced to stay seated for a full 48 hours. At one point, Mr. Ahmed-Cali attempted to stand up to stretch his legs. An ICE guard then pushed him down, cutting his knee on the metal seat – an injury that still hurts him to this day.
“ICE’s detention of Mr. Ahmed-Cali for over 2 and a half years was both immoral and unconstitutional. He never should have been in jail to begin with. All Mr. Ahmed-Cali did was come to the United States to seek asylum and flee danger in his home country. In return, ICE detained him for years. This is one of the worst cases of abuse by ICE we have seen in New Hampshire. It should not take a lawsuit from the ACLU for ICE to have done the right thing,” said Gilles Bissonnette, the Legal Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.
“If the government detains a person for more than six months, they by law need to justify the continued detention. To do anything other than that, which we have seen in this case, is entirely unconstitutional,” said SangYeob Kim, Immigration Legal Fellow at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “Mr. Ahmed-Cali followed every rule in legally presenting himself at the border to seek asylum, and it is heartbreaking that this is how the government responded. We are thankful that he has finally been released from custody after more than two years and seven months.”
Sara Jackson, a pro bono lawyer working out of Miami, has been representing Mr. Ahmed-Cali throughout his case. Currently, Mr. Ahmed-Cali’s asylum case has been reopened and is pending.