The ACLU of New Jersey represents an Afghan man who was unjustly detained after arriving in the United States. The man, whose first name is Abdul, entered the country on a special visa for Afghan citizens who put their lives in danger by supporting the U.S. Armed Forces. He was detained at Newark Airport on March 13, 2017, by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) shortly before the Trump Administration’s second Muslim Ban was set to take effect. CBP tried immediately to send him back to Afghanistan, where he would have faced undisputed physical danger. The ACLU-NJ filed an initial petition for habeas corpus to prevent the government from removing him from the country. On March 15, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of removal. This ruling protected Abdul from immediate removal, but he has been kept in unlawful and unconstitutional immigration detention at Elizabeth Detention Center ever since. In the meantime, an asylum officer found that Abdul has a credible fear of persecution in Afghanistan, because he was targeted by members of the Taliban for his service to the United States. However, the government has refused to release him while he awaits a decision on his asylum case.
The ACLU-NJ has filed an amended habeas petition for release in the federal district court. Further, we are serving as co-counsel in his immigration proceedings regarding his asylum application.