O.M.G. v. Wolf
Rapid Defense Network, RAICES, and ALDEA - The People’s Justice Center filed a case, O.M.G. v. Wolf, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Saturday on an emergency basis seeking release of all families being held in the Family Residential Centers due to the eminent risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
O.M.G. challenges the government’s failure to take minimally adequate safety precautions, such as providing education about COVID-19 or providing even the most basic necessities such as soap or sanitizer – let alone make it physically possible to socially distance.
“ICE’s family detention centers fail to provide adequate medical care in the best of times. When such inadequacies are made worse in the midst of a deadly pandemic by so-called safety measures that are totally at odds with all reasonable precautions ordered by medical experts, mayors and governors across the country – no valid justification of any sort exists to permit the continued detention of these children and their parents,” said
Gregory Copeland, Legal Director of Rapid Defense Network.
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Nirna Pierre Paul
Nirna came to the United States aged seven and was a legal permanent resident for nearly 50 years, never returning to the country of her birth. Nirna was placed into removal proceedings in 2009 after struggling with abuse. Ordered removed without a lawyer, Nirna fought to advocate for herself and was released from detention in 2010 because conditions in her country of birth didn’t allow her to be deported. In February 2018, ICE detained Nirna without any warning despite her complex medical conditions. She was on the verge of being deported when Sarah won an emergency stay following filing a habeas petition. After winning the stay, Nirna’s story took an incredible turn when Sarah and Gregory discovered she had become a U.S. citizen by derivation years ago. Only the rapid response by Sarah and Gregory prevented Nirna’s unlawful deportation to a country where her life would be in grave danger.
Nirna, after 8 years of living under an order of supervision and checking in with ICE, is detained at one of these check-in appointments.
March 6, 2018
In a late night phone call with one of Nirna’s elder sisters there was a recollection that Nirna’s father and mother had divorced and her father had remarried. However, the elder sister did not know the name of the second wife, date of the marriage, place, or any of the relevant facts.
March 7, 2018
Sarah and Gregory reached out to the government, presenting Nirna’s claim to U.S. citizenship.
March 9, 2018
The immigration judge, acknowledging Nirna’s citizenship, formally ended the removal proceeding against her, specifically noting that she would never have to be a target for immigration enforcement again.
Habeas petition filed. Case argued for three hours before SDNY judge. Judge asked the government to refrain from deporting Nirna from the U.S until decision was made in court.
Night of March 6, 2018
But, the next day, with this information, Sarah went to city hall and a supervisor took the father’s name, his approximate date of birth, the approximate year of marriage, and searched for the records. After 45 minutes, the supervisor emerged with a certificate of marriage in hand that stated Nirna’s parents had legally divorced, her father had legally remarried, and thus Nirna had lawfully derived citizenship from her mother.
March 8, 2018
The government agreed to release Nirna from immigration jail based on her claim to U.S. citizenship.
March 18, 2019
Nirna's release could not have been possible had Sarah and Gregory not rushed into court on an emergency basis to contest her removal.
Kinimo Ngoran came to the United States seeking refuge. He became homeless when first released from over of year of ICE detention after his arrival. He found a calling and belonging as a chef serving the homeless at the Capital City Rescue Mission, and met and married his wife, Lisa Pepper-Ngoran. As he attempted to adjust his status, he was arrested by ICE without warning and scheduled for imminent removal, prompting a huge outcry from his community. Albany County Sheriff Craig D. Apple stated that in “over thirty years of law enforcement, I have never seen such a miserable state of affairs when it comes to the enforcement of immigration laws in our country. Kinimo has been nothing but a model citizen and a loving husband. He has fed meals to thousands of homeless in Albany County and has been a pillar of the community both inside and outside of the Rescue Mission." RDN rushed to join the fight for Kinimo, and built a team in collaboration with Albany Law School and the University at Buffalo Law School that fought hard and ultimately won Kinimo’s release and opportunity to pursue permanent status in the United States.
January 23, 2019
January 31, 2019
Press Conference in support of Kinimo in Albany, which received immense community and political support. Gregory, among others, spoke on behalf of Kinimo. Watch full press conference here. Immediately following press conference, Sarah and Gregory get word that judge has stayed Kinimo’s deportation, thanks to the habeas.
February 2 -
March 5, 2019
Thanks to RDN’s relentless efforts, the government agrees to release Kinimo and he is reunited with his wife, Lisa Pepper-Ngoran (pictured above).
March 6, 2019
Beloved chef at the Capital City Rescue Mission was suddenly torn away from his family, work, and community during a routine check-in with immigration. Kinimo had be dutifully serving the homeless community in Albany before his arrest – leading to an outpouring of support from the local community, including the Albany County Sheriff, Craig D. Apple.
January 25, 2019
Sarah and Gregory file an emergency habeas petition for Kinimo in WDNY.
February 1, 2019
RDN builds a team, collaborating law students at Albany Law School and University at Buffalo School of Law to represent Kinimo before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.
March 5, 2019
Baba Sillah came to the United States in the early 1990s. He married Mamou, his wife, in 2013, and is now the father to five U.S. citizen children. Baba worked throughout his time in the U.S., mostly as a porter and member of the 32BJ SEIU union. ICE detained Baba without notice on January 31, 2019 and attempted to deport him days later – thwarted only by an ICE agent failing to show up to accompany Baba on the flight deporting him. RDN initially offered to assist in defending Baba in federal court, but the offer was not accepted. Late in the evening on February 25, 2019, RDN received word that Baba was to be deported within hours. RDN were hours away from New York City, and were forced to draft a habeas petition driving down the highway, then argue for a restraining order by telephone from a remote gas station on the Pennsylvania border. RDN won, and Baba was taken off the plane that was to tear his family apart. Within the next few weeks, RDN won a pardon for Baba, litigated his case in federal court, and won his release and an opportunity to pursue permanent status in the United States with his family.
Baba Sillah, a husband, father of five, and beloved member of his community, was arrested by ICE after having lived in New York City for over two decades and detained at the Hudson County Jail in Kearny, NJ.
February 4, 2019
Late in the evening on February 25, 2019, Gregory and Sarah, driving back from a federal court argument in Rochester, NY, receive a call that Baba had been taken to the airport and to be deported on a flight leaving at 8:20 p.m. With Sarah driving, Gregory drafted a habeas petition within 45 minutes on his laptop, submitted to court in New York City electronically using his cellphone as an internet hotspot. With poor phone reception, they stopped at a gas station, to call the federal court in Manhattan. At 7:15 p.m. RDN managed to get a district court judge to hold an emergency telephonic conference and RDN won a last minute restraining order to prevent Baba’s deportation. The judge’s order came just in time, forcing ICE to take Baba off the plane that was minutes away from departing.
March 4, 2019
U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni slams the government’s treatment of Baba, stating “[t]his is yet another case in which agents of the United States Government have decided to rip a man from his U.S. citizen wife and his U.S. citizen children for no discernable reason.
March 15, 2019
RDN continues to represent Mr. Sillah as he pursues adjusting his status to become a green card holder while remaining united with his family.
January 31, 2019
ICE attempt to deport Baba Sillah – but an immigration agent falls to show up, and Baba is returned to detention.
February 25, 2019
RDN coordinates the community advocacy efforts for Baba, bringing together elected officials, unions, and immigration advocates to fight for his release.
March 14, 2019
After tireless advocacy and efforts with the New York State Governor’s Office, Baba is granted a full pardon of decades old minor violations and convictions.