Federal Court Rules Government Cannot Unilaterally Detain U.S. Resident Indefinitely

December 13, 2019 6:45 pm

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NEW YORK — A federal court today ruled that the U.S. government cannot unilaterally detain Adham Hassoun, a longtime U.S. resident who is being held indefinitely and without charge by the government, under a rarely used federal immigration regulation. The court has ordered an evidentiary hearing for the government to substantiate its claims against Hassoun and justify his detention under a never-before-used USA Patriot Act provision. The government must now also justify the constitutionality of that provision.

The ruling comes in response to a habeas challenge filed earlier this year on behalf of Hassoun by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Clinical Legal Education program of the University at Buffalo School of Law, and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“This decision is a stinging rebuke to the government’s extreme claims of authority to detain our client simply by deeming him a threat to national security on its own say-so,” said Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Center for Democracy. “The ruling affirms the courts’ critical role in protecting the rights of people that the executive branch believes it can lock up, possibly forever, on vague and unsubstantiated allegations. We’re pleased that our client, who has been detained for almost a year without any due process, will finally have the opportunity to win his long-overdue release.”

Hassoun completed a 15-year criminal sentence in 2017, reduced by two years for good behavior, and was transferred to immigration custody, where he remains. The government claims that Hassoun is a threat to national security, but has not filed criminal charges or produced any credible evidence to support such claims.

After months of detaining Hassoun on the basis of a rarely-used immigration regulation, the government also recently took the unprecedented step of invoking the USA Patriot Act in an attempt to justify the unlawful detention.

Hassoun’s legal team argues that the government cannot use the regulation or the Patriot Act to circumvent the constitutional right to due process.

The ruling is here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/hassoun-v-searls-decision-and-order.

A blog post on the case is here: https://www.aclu.org/news/immigrants-rights/the-trump-administration-is-unlawfully-detaining-a-u-s-resident-without-charge/.

Additional information is here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/hassoun-v-searls-challenge-unlawful-indefinite-detention.

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