Media Contact

Communications Director Lynette Kalsnes,, 612-274-7785

July 30, 2019

A federal judge has just ordered that an immigrant held by immigration officials for more than two years must be released within 30 days.

U.S. District Judge David S. Doty ruled Tuesday that the government is violating Rochester resident Farass Ali’s constitutional right to due process by indefinitely holding him. The ACLU of Minnesota and The Advocates for Human Rights represent Farass Ali.

“Even after nearly a year of litigation before this court and two years in the immigration proceeding, the parties cannot say with reasonable certainty when a final order of removal will be issued,” Judge Doty wrote. “… Simply put, there appears to be no end in sight for Ali’s removal proceeding.”

He noted that “prison-like conditions” at the Sherburne County Jail, where Ali is being held, are another reason to release Ali.

“This is a clear case of government overreach in detaining people who have no significant criminal record for months or even years,” said attorney Ian Bratlie with the ACLU-MN’s Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project. “The government is clearly sensationalizing this case in its quest to demonize immigrants. We’re grateful our judicial branch continues to fulfill its duty to protect the constitutional rights of everyone, including immigrants, especially at a time when intolerant rhetoric is coming from our highest offices.”

Judge Doty had previously ordered Ali’s release in January, which the government appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court reversed and remanded the case to Judge Doty, directing him to further consider Ali’s constitutional claim. Tuesday’s order for Ali’s release is the result of Judge Doty’s examination of that constitutional question.

Ali is an Iraqi native who came here as a refugee in 2014 and gained lawful permanent resident status. Federal officials allege he didn’t disclose service in the Iraqi Republican Guard in his application to adjust his status from refugee to a green card, and placed him into removal proceedings.

The judge ordered Ali’s release from ICE detention within 30 days. Farass Ali's removal proceedings are still pending, and he will have to appear at any future hearings.

The ACLU-MN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to defend the civil liberties of all Minnesotans. Learn more at