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Weil Secures Safe Return of Wrongfully Deported U.S. Resident

Weil assisted in the repatriation of a refugee who was wrongfully deported by U.S. immigration authorities. In 2017, the ACLU successfully brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of 1,400 Iraqis who had been targeted by immigration authorities for detention and deportation. Despite a Michigan district judge’s order blocking deportation, one member of the class action lawsuit – a man who had fled Iraq in 1994 and was granted refugee status in the United States – was wrongfully deported to Iraq.

When the ACLU noticed that the man was missing, it hired a private investigator to locate him in Iraq. Upon finding that he had been wrongfully deported, the ACLU secured an injunction from the district court requiring ICE to purchase an airline ticket to return this long-time U.S. permanent resident to the United States.

There were numerous hurdles to securing safe return to the United States for this refugee. First, he was required to travel without his identification, including his green card, which had been confiscated by immigration authorities. Second, coordination of flights was a challenge, requiring him to fly from Baghdad, Iraq, to Amman, Jordan, to New York and finally to Nashville, where he had resided prior to his deportation. Third, at least three government agencies were required to coordinate to ensure his safe entry into the United States.

Weil assisted in preparing for his return to the United States, including by interfacing with Customs and Border Protection and ICE at the airport throughout the repatriation process. Weil also assisted in securing a domestic flight from New York to Nashville, ensuring that the refugee could return home to his community after spending almost six months in Iraq, a country that he had fled 25 years earlier due to persecution.

Associates Evan Mendelsohn, Melissa Rutman and Daniel Soso worked on the matter, with supervision from partners Jackie Cohen and Faiza Rahman.