New Complaint Alleges Detainees Unlawfully Coerced
In an amended complaint filed on Monday, January 30, lawyers representing two Yemeni brothers contend that their clients were unlawfully coerced to sign I-407 forms, which purported to document “Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status.” The Yemeni brothers, who were taken into custody after arriving at Dulles Airport hours after President Trump signed his executive order on immigration, were told that refusing to sign the administrative form would leave them unable to enter the US for five years. In fact, as the amended complaint explains, there is no such penalty for refusing to sign the form.
“We believe the agency unlawfully coerced our clients, two Yemeni brothers, and others into signing administrative forms to waive their immigration rights,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, who is co-counsel to the Yemeni brothers with Mayer Brown partners Paul Hughes and Andy Pincus. “Their signatures were not voluntary.”
“This amended complaint reveals a disturbing pattern of conduct by U.S. officials,” added Hughes.
The brothers, Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz and Ammar Aqel Muhammad Aziz, arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport on the morning of Saturday, January 28, 2017, en route to live with their father, a U.S. citizen residing in Flint, Michigan. They were traveling on duly issued United States immigrant visas, and were entitled to lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Upon arrival at Dulles, U.S. officials handcuffed Tareq and Ammar and took them into custody. Officials informed the brothers that, if they did not sign a I-407 form, they would be put into official removal proceedings and ultimately barred from entering the United States for five years. These representations were not correct – US officials had no basis to deny them entry to the United States or to order their removal. Moreover, officials did not provide Tareq and Ammar with access to counsel.
Tareq and Ammar were subsequently placed on a plane to Ethiopia (where their flight to Dulles had originated). At present, they are waiting in Addis Ababa International Airport, hoping to return to the United States. They do not wish to return to their original country of Yemen, which is in the midst of a civil war.
On the evening of Saturday, January 27, 2017, Judge Brinkema of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a temporary restraining order requiring officials at Dulles to provide access to legal counsel for lawful permanent residents detained at Dulles and to forbid further activities to send individuals outside of the United States. The Court issued this order on behalf of both Tareq and Ammar, as well as John Does 1-50, who were similarly situated.
Senator Cory Booker personally delivered a copy of the TRO to airport officials. He has sworn out an affidavit, which is attached to the amended complaint. The amended complaint details concerns about whether Dulles officials properly complied with the requirements of the TRO.
“Legal Aid Justice Center and Mayer Brown are committed to ensuring that Tareq and Ammar are able to exercise their legal right to return to the United States and join their father,” said Andrew Pincus of Mayer Brown.
For details about Dulles detainees and to support this case, please go here: https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/dullesdetainees/
Tim Wallace (Legal Aid Justice Center) 773-426-5948
John Tuerck (Mayer Brown) 312-701-8280
About the Legal Aid Justice Center
The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out exploitative policies and practices that keep people in poverty. LAJC uses impact litigation, community organizing, and policy advocacy to solve urgent problems in areas such as housing, education, civil rights, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance. LAJC’s primary service areas are Charlottesville, Northern Virginia and Richmond/Petersburg, but the effects of their work are felt statewide.
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