By The Vanguard Staff
SACRAMENTO, CA – Despite winning in multiple federal courts, Omar Ameen remains imprisoned – Monday, the Immigrant Legal Defense and the University of Chicago Immigrants’ Rights Clinic announced they filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on his behalf, seeking his immediate release.
The clinic argued Ameen has been held in detainee custody by the U.S. government for more than three years “based on false allegations that he was involved in terrorism in Iraq before he arrived in the United States as a refugee,” noting that federal “courts have now rejected those allegations.”
The petition challenges his continued detention violates the Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“The government seems to think that it can do whatever it wants as long as it invokes the word ‘terrorism,’” said Nicole Hallett, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.
“Rather than admit it was wrong about Omar, the government will go to extraordinary measures to keep him locked up. We are asking the federal court to put a stop to this abuse of power,” Hallett added.
Ameen’s story, one that keeps him from his family in Sacramento, is one of apparent government harassment, according to supporters.
It began when the Iraqi government issued a warrant for his arrest for the murder of a police officer in Rawa, Iraq. U.S. authorities arrested him after a probe by the FBI and Homeland Security in August 2018.
During extradition proceedings, the U.S. claimed not only was Omar responsible for the murder, but he was a leader in ISIS in Iraq.
But, a federal magistrate in 2021 found the warrant was “not supported by probable cause because Mr. Ameen had been in Turkey, not Iraq, at the time of the murder,” and that “there was no evidence that Mr. Ameen was an ISIS leader and ordered his immediate release,” according to supporters.
“It is a fundamental principle that the government cannot detain someone based on unsubstantiated rumors and unproven accusations,” said Ilyce Shugall, an attorney with Immigration Legal Defense (ILD) and a member of Ameen’s legal team.
“The government keeps losing, yet continues to believe it can detain Omar indefinitely without cause. The Constitution does not allow such a cavalier denial of individual liberty,” Shugall added.
Shugall and others on the legal support team said Homeland Security, instead of releasing him or charging him with a crime after the magistrate’s decision, took him into immigration custody, and placed him in removal proceedings before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
They said DHS abandoned the murder claim, but otherwise “made the same terrorism allegations against Mr. Ameen in immigration court that had been made – and rejected – in the extradition proceedings.”
After months of proceedings, the immigration judge late in 2021 ruled the U.S. did not prove Ameen was a terrorist, but refused to bond him out as he continued to fight deportation to Iraq, where his supporters claim he faces sure death.
“Omar’s bond request was denied by the same agency – the Department of Justice – that has maliciously targeted for him years. Omar deserves a fair hearing in federal court,” said Siobhan Waldron, another ILD attorney.