For 5 Somali Men in Minnesota, a Last-Ditch Effort for Legal Status

December 04, 2017 07:49 PM

Five men, including a Minneapolis city engineer, a cardiovascular technician at Mayo Clinic and an Uber driver, are nearing 48 hours to deportation to Somalia.

The men are being held at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Louisiana, their last scheduled stop before an ICE flight takes them to Somalia.

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It's been more than 13 years since any of the men have been to the country from which they fled. Immigration lawyer Kim Hunter said none of them have criminal records.

RELATED: As Detentions Grow, ICE Looks for More Space in Minnesota

Hunter represents Maxamed Adan, Yonis Ali, Abdoulmalik Ramadan Ibrahim, Abdihakim Mohamed and Abubakar Sheikh. She filed the first of a temporary restraining order against ICE to stop the deportations so the men could complete their process to get legal status.

On Monday afternoon, federal Judge Michael Davis denied Adan's request, saying he didn't' have jurisdiction to decide. Hunter said she believes the judge can decide to allow her the motion to reopen the case. She argued it's too dangerous to send the men back to Somalia, that the men may be targets of al-Shabab because they have come from the West.

Hunter plans to appeal the ruling. She is scheduled to be in court to lobby for the other four men on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Adan's wife Ifrah Ali sat in the court as she heard  the arguments to decide her husband's fate. She said Adan is loyal to America and loves this country. He has three young children, all under 11. Ali, an American citizen, and Adan have been married for 11 years.

Ali said her husband was trying to gain legal status when ICE agents detained him and began deportation proceedings against him. She said Adan came to the U.S. in 1998 as an asylum seeker. His asylum claim was rejected, but he went through the process to try to get legal status.

Hunter said Adan owned a small taxi company. In recent years, he became an Uber driver.

Federal prosecutors said 200 Somalis were deported from the U.S. in 2016. Two hundred were deported in just the first six months of 2017.

RELATED: Supreme Court Allows Full Enforcement of Trump Travel Ban

Hunter said the men she represents were not prioritized to be deported but "there are different priorities by this administration, which make everybody a priority. This family is a victim of that policy," she said of Adan and Ali and their family. 

Reached via email for comment, ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer sent this statement:

The five Somali cases referenced are all pending litigation in U.S. federal court. 
 
As a matter of policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not comment on pending litigation. However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement with or stipulation to any allegations. As part of the Department of Homeland Security's homeland security mission, our trained law enforcement professionals adhere to the Department's mission and values, and uphold our laws while continuing to provide the nation with safety and security.

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Farrah Fazal

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