This case objects to the prolonged, unconstitutional detention of immigrants in Minnesota

Case Background

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Law School's Center for New Americans, and Dorsey & Whitney filed a class action lawsuit challenging the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) practice of continuing to detain immigrants for months, even after an immigration judge has ruled they cannot be deported to their home countries. The petition argues this practice is unconstitutional.

Rushinga Muzaliwa is a petitioner in the case who is currently in ICE custody. He has filed a habeas corpus action and seeks to represent the larger group of immigrants like him who would face persecution or torture if deported, but who ICE nonetheless continues to detain at county jails across Minnesota. The petition seeks to represent any future ICE detainees facing similar violations of their constitutional rights.

ICE detains and seeks to deport many non-citizens each year. Those who fear persecution if deported to their home country can ask an immigration judge to block deportation by applying for Withholding of Removal or protection under the United Nation's Convention Against Torture (CAT). An immigration judge can only grant these forms of relief where the immigrant proves he or she most likely will be persecuted or tortured at home. If granted deportation protection, ICE's own written policies say the immigrant should be released immediately, except in rare instances where deportation is possible to a third country, such as where the immigrant has dual citizenship in two foreign countries. However, the ICE office in Minnesota continues to jail these immigrants for months after an immigration judge blocks their deportation, and routinely does so when there is no expectation of deportation to any country. The lawsuit explains the typical period of unjustified detention is 90 days.

The ACLU-MN, the Center for New Americans, and Dorsey are asking that all immigrants currently in this situation be immediately released and that in the future no immigrant is held for an additional 90 days when there is no likelihood that the immigrant can be deported.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

University of Minnesota Law School & Dorsey

Date filed

April 11, 2016


Federal District Court