Federal District Judge Orders that Immigration Court Provide Omar a New Bond Hearing
The District Judge ruled that Omar did not receive a constitutionally sufficient bond hearing in immigration court and ordered that such a hearing must be held within 30 days. At that hearing, the Government bears the burden to support Omar’s detention by clear and convincing evidence. The Immigration Judge has already found that the Government failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Omar had anything to do with terrorism.
As noted by the District Judge, Omar’s original bond hearing “was constitutionally deficient.” Likewise, the District Judge found that Omar has “been in federal detention for an excessive period.” He also noted that the Immigration Judge’s “recent determination to grant Ameen protection under the Convention Against [Torture] – also weigh[s] in favor of providing a renewed bond hearing. . . .” because it affects the balance of interests and the danger that Omar Ameen has been erroneously deprived of his liberty.
At this point, Omar Ameen has been in continuous custody since August 15, 2018. He served over two and a half years in custody on the extradition case that he won in April 2021. He has been in immigration detention for the past year, since April 21, 2021.
Immigrant Legal Defense
Ilyce Shugall, firstname.lastname@example.org, (415) 758-3765
Siobhan Waldron, email@example.com, (510) 479-0972
Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, The University of Chicago Law School
Nicole Hallett, firstname.lastname@example.org, (203) 910-1980
Immigration Judge Blocks Omar’s Removal to Iraq
(VAN NUYS, CA – 3/28/22) – The Sacramento Valley/Central California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV/CC), Immigrant Legal Defense and theImmigrants’ Rights Clinic today welcomed an immigration judge’s ruling granting Omar Ameen “withholding of removal” under the Convention Against Torture, holding that he cannot be sent back to Iraq because of the likelihood that he will be tortured upon return.
The government argued that Mr. Ameen will likely be arrested upon removal to Iraq, but that he did not prove that he would suffer torture in custody of the Iraqi government. It also argued that he was ineligible for withholding of removal because of their allegations of his involvement in terrorism. The Immigration Judge rejected these arguments and granted Mr. Ameen relief from removal to Iraq. Like the Federal District Court in the extradition decision, the Immigration Judge rejected the government’s baseless claims that Mr. Ameen is a terrorist and a criminal. Mr. Ameen has been in custody on false claims of terrorism since August 15, 2018, spending over 1300 days away from his wife and four children in Sacramento.
In granting Mr. Ameen withholding of removal, the Immigration Judge found that the government’s “evidence purporting to show [Mr. Ameen’s] support of and involvement in terrorist organizations has substantial deficiencies and is ultimately unpersuasive.” She elaborated, “Indeed, the unreliability of an Iraqi arrest warrant alone is demonstrated by the United States District Court’s order declining to certify [Mr. Ameen’s] extradition to Iraq, finding the evidence established [Mr. Ameen] was not even in Iraq at the time the alleged murder was committed.”
Under Article III of the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. cannot send someone to a country where they will more likely than not be tortured. Mr. Ameen proved that he would be taken into custody and tortured upon his return to Iraq. Torture is defined under U.S. law as the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession or to punish for an act or suspected act. Countless human rights and governmental organizations, including the United Nations and the U.S. State Department, have found that Iraq falsely arrests and tortures those accused of terrorism.
Mr. Ameen has a pending habeas corpus petition seeking his release from custody and is scheduled for a hearing on the matter on April 13, 2022, before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
Omar Ameen is represented by Ilyce Shugall and Siobhan Waldron of Immigrant Legal Defense in Oakland, California, and Nicole Hallett of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic of University of Chicago Law School.
Ms. Shugall stated, “We are thrilled that the Immigration Judge found what we have been arguing all along—that the government does not have reliable evidence that Mr. Ameen has had any involvement in terrorism. We are also glad that she made the right decision to grant him protection so that he can remain in the United States safely. We will continue to pursue his immediate release from custody.”
Ms. Waldron noted, “The federal government’s baseless targeting of Mr. Ameen to pursue a political agenda in its War on Terror has always been unacceptable. The Immigration Judge’s findings make it clear that Mr. Ameen’s continued detention in the name of national security is unwarranted and unjustifiable.”
Ms. Hallett commented, “It is time for the government to acknowledge what multiple courts have held: Omar is not a threat to national security. It is time for ICE to release him to his family.”
Omar’s fight for freedom has also been supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Layli Shirani, Senior Staff Attorney for CAIR-SV/CC, said, “This is not the first time the government has clung to a charge or conviction and fought to keep an innocent person in lockup. But I can think of no other time that it did so despite three separate judicial findings that their claims are baseless, unpersuasive and deficient. Free Omar Ameen. Now.”
Immigrant Legal Defense
Ilyce Shugall, email@example.com, (415) 758-3765
Siobhan Waldron, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 479-0972
Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, The University of Chicago Law School
Nicole Hallett, email@example.com, (203) 910-1980
Layli Shirani, lShirani@cair.com, (415) 518-8803
CAIR Announces Launch of #FreeOmarAmeen Coalition
At a press conference featuring Omar’s legal team, along with representatives from CAIR, CRLAF/FUEL, Mixteco Indigena, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s Office, and other community organizations, CAIR announced a state-wide coalition to raise awareness of Omar’s case, and the anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant actions of the U.S. Government in his case. The press conference can be viewed on CAIR’s Facebook page here.
Omar Files Federal Lawsuit Seeking His Release After the U.S. Government Fails Once Again to Prove Any Connection to Terrorism
Immigrant Legal Defense and the University of Chicago Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Omar Ameen seeking his immediate release from immigration custody. Mr. Ameen has been held by the U.S. government for over three years based on false allegations that he was involved in terrorism in Iraq before he arrived in the United States as a refugee. Multiple courts have now rejected those allegations. The petition alleges that his continued detention in these circumstances violates the Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Immigration Judge Finds that Omar Was Not a Terrorist, but Is Still Potentially Removable to Iraq
The Immigration Judge’s decision was a partial victory for Mr. Ameen. The Immigration Judge declined to sustain ICE’s allegations about Mr. Ameen’s alleged involvement in terrorism. However, Omar’s team is disappointed that she sustained the other allegations, as we firmly believe they are not supported by clear and convincing evidence. We now look forward to securing Mr. Ameen’s release from custody so he can be reunited with his wife and four children. Mr. Ameen is not and has never been involved in terrorism. He is eligible to and should be permitted to fight his immigration case while living at home with his family. He is not a danger to national security or the community, nor does he pose a flight risk.
Congratulations to Ilyce Shugall and Siobhan Waldron, Omar’s immigration attorneys from Immigrant Legal Defense.
D.C. District Court Holds that Omar Has Standing to Pursue his Own FOIA Suit
The Government moved to dismiss Omar’s FOIA lawsuit, rather than provide him and his attorneys the documents to explain why the U.S. Government pursued a bogus extradition charge against him. The District Judge has resoundingly denied the Government’s motion. The case will go on, and hopefully Omar and his team will get the answers he deserves. Kudos to Matt Topic, Rachel Eun, and the rest of the team at Loevy & Loevy.
Additional Delay – and New Immigration Judge in Omar’s Case
At 4:30 p.m. the Friday before Labor Day weekend – with Omar’s immigration hearing due to recommence on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. – the immigration court stated that the hearing would not go forward because of unavailability of the judge who had heard the case since May. The hearing has now been rescheduled for September 28 and 29 in front of a different immigration judge. The prior judge – who has issued numerous orders including a 23-page order in August that questioned many aspects of the Government’s evidence – has been taken off the website for the immigration court in Van Nuys. The judges work for the Department of Justice.
Delay for Omar’s August Immigration Hearing Dates
In light of the interim order on outstanding motions in Omar’s case, the immigration judge has rescheduled his next hearings from August 24 and 25 to September 7 and 8, 2021.
Follow Up on
Omar’s July Immigration Court Hearing
Omar Ameen had a contested removal hearing that started on July 27th and 28th at the Immigration Court in Van Nuys, 6230 Van Nuys Blvd. The Government is required to prove its case by clear and convincing evidence, yet did not present a single witness who claims to have seen Omar commit – or in any way be associated with – any acts of violence or terrorism. Instead, the U.S. Government indicated it would call four FBI agents and two employees of USCIS as witnesses.
During that two-day hearing, the Government called its first witness, the lead case agent, retired FBI Special Agent William Denton. Mr. Denton testified in support of a “letterhead memo” (LHM) prepared by the FBI on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security for use in the immigration case against Omar. Mr. Denton did not have personal knowledge regarding much of the LHM. He testified to what others – Iraqi sources, other agents — told him, or what he read in other documents. Much of what those sources recounted were filled with claims from unnamed sources. He then refused to answer questions on cross-examination by Omar’s immigration attorney.
It’s clear that in calling Government agents, DHS lawyers seek to insulate the lying Iraqi witnesses from confrontation and cross-examination. This is because those same Iraqi witnesses colluded to falsely accuse Mr. Ameen of an ISIS murder for which he was wholly innocent. It was surprising that the Government also sought to insulate the FBI agents from confrontation and cross-examination. The ability to confront the evidence is critical to any hearing, especially one where Omar’s life and family are on the line.
In declining to extradite Mr. Ameen on that false murder charge, the federal court judge detailed the complete lack of credibility of these sources. The Government will doubtless argue that hearsay from these same sources should now be believed, even though not a single Government witness will agree to be questioned on these false claims. These Iraqi witnesses enlisted the FBI in their elaborate and false attempt to return Omar to Iraq to his death. The U.S. Government continues to persist in this.
The Government has sought to shut down every defense attempt to attack its evidence. It has refused to provide prior statements by any witnesses. It has refused to provide the evidence of Mr. Ameen’s innocence that it has in their files. It has fought the defense’s attempts to obtain this evidence through subpoenas. It has argued that the immigration judge lacks authority to order DHS to fight fair. And now its witnesses refuse to be cross-examined.
Mr. Ameen’s case, which centers on a massive lie which DHS seeks to perpetuate, exposes the significant procedural flaws in the immigration court system.
The hearing adjourned for a month after the retired FBI agent refused to answer even the most basic questions on cross-examination. The next two days are scheduled for August 24 and 25, in Van Nuys.
June 29: National Lawyer’s Guild, National Immigration Project, Features Omar Ameen in its #ProtectDontDeport Campaign
Nearly 160 organizations have signed on to this letter to Secretary Mayorkas, asking DHS to re-evalute its priorities and #ProtectDontDeport. The letter features Omar’s story as the first example of immigrants “harmed by ICE’s enforcement framework and failed by ICE’s current enforcement priorities.”
NIP-NLG also features Omar in its June 2021 report, “The Human Costs of ICE’s Enforcement Network,” which encourages the Biden Administration to prioritize protection, not enforcement.
May 23: VICE TV’s Documentary on Omar’s Case in
VICE’s description is: “From the Sacramento suburbs to the streets of Iraq, an investigation of an Iraqi refugee accused of being an ISIS hitman uncovers evidence that suggests he is innocent.”
Full Story on YouTube
FOIA Case Filed on Behalf of Omar Ameen Against FBI, DOJ, State Department
FOIA Suit: FBI, DOJ, and State Must Provide Records on Innocent Iraqi Refugee Omar Ameen
SACRAMENTO, CA. – For almost three years, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and the State Department falsely accused Iraqi refugee Omar Ameen of being an ISIS commander who committed a 2014 murder in Iraq. Mr. Ameen proved his innocence, and a Federal Judge threw out the extradition case on April 21, 2021. Mr. Ameen now sues the DOJ, FBI, and State Departments under FOIA for the records underlying his baseless prosecution.
In 2018, the Trump administration instigated and coordinated an Iraqi extradition request for Omar Ameen, falsely accusing him of being an ISIS commander and murderer. The Trump administration then leveraged these false charges to serve its narrative of Muslim refugees coming into the United States as a “Trojan horse”: former Secretary Pompeo cited Omar’s arrest to justify cutting the 2019 FY refugee resettlement quota to an unprecedented low.
Any close examination of the accusations would have revealed internal inconsistencies and irregularities consistent with fraud. Meanwhile, the Government ignored and even suppressed overwhelming evidence of Ameen’s innocence. After almost three years of Omar’s solitary confinement in federal detention, the Judge in Omar’s case found that Omar’s defense met the nearly impossible legal standard of “obliterating probable cause.” As Judge Brennan wrote of the prosecution’s case: “this series of events is simply not plausible.”
Omar Ameen should have been freed that same afternoon and reunited with his family. Instead, under the Biden administration, he was transferred straight to ICE for deportation proceedings in Bakersfield, CA. He continues to be detained, fighting the same bogus claims of terrorism from the same deceitful witnesses. If Omar is sent back to Iraq, he will face the same fate as if he had been extradited: a sham trial and near certain death penalty.
Mr. Ameen is an innocent man who has been grievously wronged by the U.S. Government. He seeks to understand the process the resulted in his unjust prosecution for a crime he did not commit. Further, it is essential that the American public understand this enormous waste of taxpayer resources in prosecuting, and continuing to detain, an innocent man. FOIA exists to expose governmental misconduct and waste. It is a critical tool to keep the Government transparent and accountable to the people. Omar’s case begs for a full public airing of how the Government came to fight so hard to sustain a fallacy.
VICE TV is releasing an episode about Mr. Ameen at 9 am EST May 23rd, “The Case Against Omar Ameen,” which will also be released on their YouTube channel.
Ameen is represented by Matt Topic and the Freedom of Information Act team at Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, which has litigated hundreds of Freedom of Information Act cases, including release of video of the Chicago police murder of Laquan McDonald and previously withheld portions of the Mueller Report.
May 13: ICE’s Ridiculous Stance on Omar’s Case
ICE’s latest statement on Omar’s case would be laugh-out-loud funny if Omar’s life didn’t hang in the balance. Yesterday, ICE told the SF Chronicle’s Bob Egelko: “pending immigration proceedings are unrelated to the extradition request.”
All attorneys would love to ignore inconvenient facts that destroy their cases. Prosecutors especially have the ethical duty to look at, disclose, and consider exculpatory evidence in exercising their considerable powers. The filings indicate that either the DHS prosecutors are willfully blind to the extensive extradition record destroying their witnesses and their case, or they know of it and will claim they have no ethical or other duty to consider or produce exculpatory evidence in prosecuting Omar’s removal case. Either option should be extremely troubling, and if DHS continues down this path, we will vigorously address this in Court and in other arenas to ensure that justice is done.
Any prosecutor, and that includes anyone vested with government power that enables them to detain someone or send them to their death, should feel a duty to ensure that they fully understand their case PRIOR to initiating those actions. The FBI memo provided to the DHS prosecutors in this case shows that the FBI either intentionally withheld exculpatory and impeachment evidence from the DHS prosecutors, or that at a very high level the FBI was called upon to draft a memo for the court sanitizing the Government case of all exculpatory evidence.
The ICE case is based squarely upon the same discredited Iraqi witnesses cobbled together by the FBI in support of the extradition case. DHS attorneys and the FBI have filed pleadings with the immigration court that pretend that the extradition case doesn’t matter, even though those witnesses flatly lied in an attempt to pin a murder on Omar and have him extradited to Iraq. Moreover, the pleadings ignore FBI benefits provided to several of those witnesses, inconsistent statements, and areas where they are flat-out wrong. The FBI disclosed this information to the District Court previously – but now it pretends to the immigration court and DHS attorneys that this evidence doesn’t exist. We are in a bizarro-world where the Government feels that it is free to pick and choose which facts from which statements and which witnesses it will present to the Court. And remember, DHS has argued that the immigration judge has no jurisdiction to even consider Omar’s release.
UPDATE from Omar’s Immigration Court Date
on May 13, 2021 (Eid Al-Fitr)
Omar made his first appearance in Immigration Court on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in Van Nuys, 6230 Van Nuys Blvd. 3rd Floor, Suite 300. The Court carefully considered what procedure to follow in this case and set the following dates, even as the Judge expressed concern that Omar has been sitting in custody this entire time:
Submission of Briefing on the Merits June 29, 2021
Merits Hearing Dates July 27 and 28, 2021
The Court recognized that Omar’s case presents significant and complex factual issues that require the presentation of evidence, including witnesses to be called by the DHS attorneys. The Court knew about the extradition case and the result. Accordingly, the Court set aside two entire dates for the merits hearing on removability.
We anticipate that additional hearings may be set. Siobhan Waldron, Omar’s immigration attorney, indicated that she would be filing a Motion for the Court to set bond so that Omar can be released to his family in Sacramento. The Government’s attorney argued that he believed the Court lacks jurisdiction to set a bond in this case, because of the allegations of terrorism the Government continues to pursue. The Court and Ms. Waldron pointed out that the Government had not filed any facts to support that argument. Accordingly, the parties will file briefing on the issue.
We expect that COVID protocols will continue to be in effect, so Omar will be appearing virtually from ICE Golden State Annex in McFarland again. Most likely, the Court’s public line will be available for up to 50 people to listen in to that hearing. Again, we will update court access information on this page. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re unable to get access to the proceeding.
Community Support: Press Conference on May 11 at 10:00 a.m. in Sacramento on 1000th Day in Custody Displays Broad Support for Omar Ameen’s Release
The well-attended press conference on Omar’s 1000th day in custody, May 11, 2021, displayed the broad community support for Omar’s immediate release. The press conference was held at ICE in Sacramento at 650 Capitol Mall. CAIR-SVCC organized and livestreamed the event. The following speakers detailed why Omar’s release is absolutely necessary:
Rachelle Barbour – Assistant Federal Defender, E.D. Cal.
Siobhan Waldron – Managing Attorney, Immigrant Legal Defense
Basim Elkarra — Director, CAIR-SVCC
Katie Valenzuela – Sacramento City Council Member, District 4
Sean Riordan – Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Northern California
Ruth Ibarra– NorCal Resist
Layli Shirani – Senior Staff Attorney, Civil Rights, CAIR-SV/CC
Hamid Hayat – Exoneree
Imam Yasir Khan – President, Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations
Many members of the press were in attendance, including KCRA, VICE, FOX40 and CBS13.
May 6: CAIR calls for release of Omar Ameen
Press Conference in Sacramento on
Omar’s 1000th Day in Custody
Federal judge rejects extradition of Ameen, who was falsely accused of being ISIS commander; supporters to hold press conference
(SACRAMENTO, CA, 5/6/21) — Sacramento resident and Iraqi refugee Omar Ameen, who spent almost three years in solitary confinement fighting extradition on false accusations, was recently exonerated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan. Despite that ruling, Ameen was not released and is now in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
ACTION ALERT: CAIR California Action Alert – Contact Your Representative to Demand Omar Ameen’s Immediate Release
Ameen was falsely accused of being an ISIS commander who murdered an Iraqi policeman, a capital offense. The case was instrumental to the Trump administration’s narrative that Muslim refugees were a “Trojan horse”; indeed, Ameen’s arrest was the sole incident cited by former Secretary of State Pompeo when announcing the reduction of the 2019 refugee resettlement ceiling 15,000 fewer from the year before.
Judge Brennan on April 21 issued a strongly worded ruling that rebuked the prosecution for a dubious case and non-credible witnesses. He stated of the prosecution’s case, “This series of events is simply not plausible,” and said Ameen’s defense met the nearly impossible legal standard of “obliterating probable cause.”
Although the ruling exonerated Ameen, he has not yet been freed and reunited with his wife and four children in Sacramento. Instead, Ameen was immediately transferred into ICE custody on a holdover immigration order bearing the same false accusations he just fought. If Ameen is sent back to Iraq, he will face the same fate as if he had been extradited: a sham trial and near certain death penalty.
On Monday, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento City Council members called for Ameen’s release in a letter, saying, “We urge the immediate release of Mr. Ameen and an end to his deportation proceedings. Not only is there no basis for his continued detention or deportation, the false accusations against Mr. Ameen would place him in danger of wrongful execution were he returned to Iraq.”
On Tuesday, May 11, which is Ameen’s 1,000th day in detention, supporters will hold a press conference in Sacramento.
WHAT: Press conference on Omar Ameen case, featuring his attorney and supporters, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Sacramento Valley office (CAIR-SV) and Hamid Hayat, another Sacramento-area man who was wrongfully convicted of terrorism-related charges and imprisoned for 14 years.
CONTACTS: Emily Hawley, Free Omar Ameen Network, 503-473-3642, email@example.com
Rachelle Barbour, Assistant Federal Defender, 916-258-7330, firstname.lastname@example.org
Layli Shirani, CAIR-Sacramento Valley Senior Civil Rights Attorney, 916-441-6269, email@example.com
Omar Ameen said in a statement:
“It has been almost three years since I was woken up and taken away suddenly from the arms of my family. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my wife and children, because I was certain that it was a mistake and that I’d be back the same day. I then spent two years and eight months at Sacramento jail on charges that I am completely innocent of. The judge found me innocent and ordered me to be immediately released, but the immigration police didn’t let me go home the day I won the case on April 21, 2021, and they are detaining me in a faraway location now. My family and I thought I’d get to go home that day. I am so grateful to the judge for listening to all the evidence and I thank God that in this country I had the right to defend myself and be found innocent. I love America and want to enjoy living here the rest of my life with my wife and children. It saddens me that I still have to fight for my freedom again. Please let me go home to my family now so that I can enjoy these last few days of Ramadan with them, break my fast with them, and enjoy my first Eid with my children in over two years.”
Rachelle Barbour, Ameen’s Attorney, said in a statement:
“The government needs to know that this case is a mockery of justice. Omar is absolutely innocent, and this case should never have been filed. Our judge found that we obliterated the Government’s evidence: Omar was in Turkey with his family, not in Iraq committing a crime. It is unacceptable that ICE is holding him on the same allegations. ICE is proceeding on a stale, outdated, and false set of charges, and it is Kafkaesque that Omar is being forced to fight them again. Omar must be freed immediately to reunite with his family in Sacramento.”
Emily Hawley, who worked on Ameen’s case as a law student and coordinates the growing Free Omar Ameen Network, said in a statement:
“This case is devastating. The U.S. government has robbed Omar of three years of his life in the United States, a place that was supposed to be a refuge for him and his children. Instead, since 2018, the Ameen family has lived a nightmare. He has now been vindicated in a U.S. courtroom, yet this nightmare is not over. Omar is still in custody and facing deportation to Iraq, where we credibly fear that he will be executed.”
Layli Shirani, Senior Civil Rights Attorney for CAIR-SV who was also an attorney for Hamid Hayat, said in a statement:
“Omar Ameen is an innocent man who has been grievously wronged by the U.S. government. Omar will never get the years back with his family that he has already lost due to baseless accusations, Islamophobia and xenophobia. It is long past time to release him and return him to his family and to his community.”
May 5: ALIANZA, Sacramento Immigration Coalition, the Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR), and Step Up! Sacramento Call for Omar’s Release
A coalition of leading immigrant reform organizations in Sacramento have taken up the public call to #FreeOmarAmeen.
On May 5, 2021, ALIANZA, Sacramento Immigration Coalition, the Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR), and Step Up! Sacramento, wrote Representatives Bera and Matsui urging them to help secure the immediate release of Omar Ameen. The letters stated the following:
On behalf of Alianza, Sacramento, Sacramento Immigration Coalition, the Campaign for the Immigrant Detention Reform(CIDR), and Step Up! Sacramento, we are seeking your help in securing the immediate release of Omar Ameen from ICE detention with the Biden Administration. Mr. Ameen is in danger of being executed if extradited which could be imminent. We also hope the [Congressmember] can advocate for the ultimate dismissal of his deportation proceedings. Many of our advocates from our immigrant rights organizations live in [Districts 6 and 7. Mr. Ameen lives in District 7.]
On August 15, 2018, after over three years of contributing to his California community, Mr.Ameen was arrested from his home and taken into federal custody, where he faced extradition to Iraq after being wrongly accused of killing a police officer as part of an ISIS hit squad. Importantly, Mr. Ameen was not even in Iraq at the time of his alleged crime. He had been living in Turkey since 2012 where he had claimed asylum from Iraq. Mr. Ameen was used as a pawn by the Trump administration in its efforts to significantly scale back the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.
On April 21, 2021, after almost three years of aggressive litigation by the Trump Administration, District Court Judge Brennan issued a decision denying the extradition request, finding that Mr.Ameen’s defense attorney had “obliterated probable cause.” Of the prosecution’s case, Judge Brennan stated: “this series of events is simply not plausible,” and that the “sole eye-witness.”had “articulated allegations against Ameen that are absurd on their face.”
Despite being exonerated by the Federal District Court weeks ago, Mr. Ameen remains imprisoned in a privately-operated Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detention facility in California, where he awaits a deportation hearing. Importantly, it does not appear.that Mr. Ameen is being held within the stated ICE Detention Priorities enumerated by the current Administration. He has not been convicted of any crimes, nor does he pose a national security or public safety risk of any kind. He should be returned to his family and to his community. He is a beloved father and community member.
Mr. Ameen is an Iraqi refugee, with no criminal history, who arrived in the United States in 2014. The refugee resettlement process required Mr. Ameen to pass extensive security screenings conducted by or using databases from, the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, Department of Defense, USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, and Interpol. Mr. Ameen and his family made it through this rigorous process and settled in California.An innocent man, it is only just that he be released immediately and that his deportation proceedings be dismissed.
/s/ Rhonda Rios Kravitz
CEO Alianza Sacramento
/s/ Janeth Rodriguez
Chair, Sacramento Immigration Coalition
/s/ Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi
Board Member, CIDR
/s/ Rita Cepeda
Board Member, Step Up! Sacramento
May 4: International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) Calls for Supporters to Help #FreeOmarAmeen
On May 4, 2021, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) issued a Call to Action to mobilize its supporters to stop Omar’s Deportation. Thank you for supporting us!!
May 3: Sacramento Mayor and Councilmembers call for release of exonerated Sacramento refugee Omar Ameen
CITY OF SACRAMENTO
May 3, 2021
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
On behalf of the City of Sacramento, we are writing to express our grave concern over the continued detention of Omar Ameen, an Iraqi refugee and Sacramento resident who was wrongly scapegoated by the Trump administration in an attempt to destroy the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.
On April 21, 2021, when he ordered Mr. Ameen released from the Sacramento County Jail, Federal District Court Judge Edmund F. Brennan eliminated any pretense that his prosecution was based on anything but the Trump Administration’s campaign to vilify Muslim refugees and reverse Obama-era refugee policy.
Now that he has been exonerated, we implore you to release Mr. Ameen from federal detention, return him to our Sacramento community, and undo the harm caused by the Trump Administration.
Omar Ameen is an Iraqi refugee who was resettled to the United States in 2014, a process that required him to pass extensive security screenings conducted by or using databases from, the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, Department of Defense, USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, and Interpol.
After over three years living peaceably in the United States, Mr. Ameen was arrested from his home in our Sacramento community in the early hours of August 15, 2018. He was taken into federal custody and told he faced extradition to Iraq after being accused of killing a police officer as part of an ISIS hit squad. If extradited to Iraq, Mr. Ameen faced a likely death penalty. As he has irrefutably shown, Mr. Ameen was not in Iraq at the time of his alleged crime; he had been living in Turkey since 2012 where
he had claimed asylum from Iraq.
As extensively documented by The New Yorker, since 2018 Mr. Ameen has been the victim of a grave politicization of the U.S. judicial system by the previous Administration. There is formidable evidence that the Trump Administration encouraged the Iraqi government to seek Mr. Ameen’s extradition despite overwhelming evidence that Ameen had no ties to the crime and despite knowledge that extradition to Iraq would mean near-certain death for Ameen.
Mr. Ameen’s arrest was instrumental to the Trump administration’s destruction of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. A month after Mr. Ameen’s arrest, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited his case as the “security imperative” justifying the reduction of the resettlement quota to a historic low for fiscal year 2019.
Moreover, the accusations themselves were riddled with internal contradictions, suggestions of bias, and irregularities consistent with fraud. Despite ever-increasing evidence that their lacked any foundation, the U.S. Government under the Trump Administration continued to press forward with both its prosecution of Mr. Ameen and the associated dismantlement of U.S. refugee resettlement.
More egregiously, the DOJ under Trump apparently knowingly failed to disclose a letter from the Turkish government to Mr. Ameen’s defense lawyers that affirmed the Turkish government could provide Ameen’s phone records in Turkey. Judge Brennan called these phone records “the most critical” piece of evidence for his decision. The DOJ sat on this letter for eight months before the defense team received the letter from a State Department official.
On April 21, 2021, Judge Brennan issued a resounding rejection of the charges against Omar Ameen. Judge Brennan denied the extradition request and found the defense had “obliterated probable cause.” Of the prosecution’s allegations, he said: “this series of events is simply not plausible.” Judge Brennan further stated that the sole “eye-witness” had “articulated allegations against Ameen that are absurd
on their face.”
That day marked an incredible victory for Mr. Ameen, and it should have been a time full of reunion and celebration for him and his family. Instead, his nightmare continues: Rather than being released, Mr. Ameen was transferred into ICE custody on an immigration hold linked to the extradition request and put into deportation proceedings.
The Trump Administration’s acts made a mockery of the rule of law and the American judicial system. These acts directly undermined our country’s Refugee Resettlement Program, which has provided safety to 3 million individuals while safeguarding U.S. national security.
We urge the immediate release of Mr. Ameen and an end to his deportation proceedings. Not only is there no basis for his continued detention or deportation, the false accusations against Mr. Ameen would place him in danger of wrongful execution were he returned to Iraq.
Mr. Ameen is a longtime resident of Sacramento, and has strong family ties here.We urge the immediate release of Mr. Ameen and an end to his deportation proceedings. Not only is there no basis for his continued detention or deportation, the false accusations against Mr. Ameen would place him in danger of wrongful execution were he returned to Iraq.
Mr. Ameen is a longtime resident of Sacramento, and has strong family ties here. As his community, we support him to the fullest extent and want him to come home to Sacramento.
Darrell Steinberg, Mayor
Jay Schenirer, Vice Mayor
City of Sacramento
Katie Valenzuela, Councilmember
City of Sacramento
Sean Loloee, Councilmember
City of Sacramento
Eric Guerra, Councilmember
City of Sacramento
Mai Vang, Councilmember
City of Sacramento
May 3: Indivisible Sacramento Adds Its Voice to the Campaign to #FreeOmarAmeen
On May 3, 2021, Indivisible Sacramento issued an Urgent Call to Action. Thank you for supporting us!!
April 28: NorCal Resist Demands the
Release of Omar Ameen
On April 28, 2021, NorCal Resist issued an Urgent Call to Action to mobilize its supporters to #FreeOmarAmeen.