Lawyers seek release of man as US seeks country to take him
Lawyers in Massachusetts are seeking the release of a man they say is being unlawfully detained by federal immigration officials while they try to find a country to deport him to.
The case involves Sreynuon Lunn, 32, who was born in a Thai refugee camp to Cambodian parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge and brought to the United States as a seven-month-old child. Lunn was legally allowed into the country as a refugee and given lawful permanent resident status.
Last October, Lunn was charged with unarmed robbery and held until February for a trial date. The charges were ultimately dismissed, but the court ordered Lunn held on a so-called Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request, overruling a request by his lawyers that he be released.
Immigration agents arrived several hours after the charges were dismissed to take Lunn into custody.
Detainer requests typically ask federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to give at least 48 hours' notice before an individual is released from a jail - or to hold the person for up to 48 hours after they would normally be released.
Lawyers for Lunn last month argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that the practice of holding individuals on detainer requests violates both the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which bars against unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals, and similar provisions in the Massachusetts Constitution.
The Department of Justice defends the use of detainer requests.
That case is still pending.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a petition in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts seeking Lunn's release.
They say that the Department of Homeland Security has designated Cambodia as Lunn's country of origin even though government officials there have denied that Lunn is a Cambodian citizen for nine years and have refused to issue him travel papers. Thai officials have also said that they don't consider Lunn a citizen of Thailand.