Sameth Nhean finally released after 346 days of unnecessary and unjust detention

Nhean reunited with family after being held for almost a year by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
August 8, 2017 4:45 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Minnesota
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

St. Paul, Minn- After years of being in jeopardy of deportation and spending a total of 484 days in jail, Sameth Nhean has finally been released from custody by a federal judge. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and his immigration attorney, Danielle Robinson Briand, have been fighting for his release. Samethn Nhean is a part of the group often called “The Minnesota Eight”, a group of Cambodian men in the U.S. whose families have been fighting their deportation orders.

“For the past seven years I have lived with the threat of being ripped from my family at any time. Living with that fear, and spending the last year away from my family have caused so much stress and strain on me and my family,” stated Sameth Nhean. “We were all forced to put our futures on hold. The way I was treated by the U.S. government should not happen to anyone. I just want to work and live with family in peace, the same as anyone else.”

Sameth Nhean was brought from Cambodia to the United States as a young child and resided as a lawful permanent resident his entire life. As an adult, Nhean served 90 days in jail in 2002, but lived safely and peacefully in the community until August 2010, when he was arrested, thrown into jail, and ordered to be deported. ICE let him go in 2011 after 138 days in custody when they admitted they could not remove him to Cambodia or Thailand.

ICE arrested him again in August 2016, claiming once more that they were about to remove him, but all they did was haul him around from one jail to another. The ACLU filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which would force ICE to justify the continued detention of Nhean, with the federal court in St. Paul in January 2017.

“Prolonged detention, like Sameth’s, is unfortunately all too common. Not only is it traumatic for everyone involved, but it makes basic access to justice even harder,” stated Briand, an attorney of Nhean. “I am overjoyed at his release, and relieved he can finally be reunited with his family.”

Yesterday, August 8, a federal judge ordered Nhean’s release after Nhean won an immigration court hearing on July 19, 2017. At 5:15 p.m. he was finally reunited with his wife and three children after being in jail for the past 346 days. Adding that his prior jailing, he was held for a total of 484 days.

“There was never any reason to hold Nhean in jail at all,” stated John Gordon, interim legal director of the ACLU-MN. “It was a waste of taxpayer money and, far more important, a waste of 484 days of his life. He had followed all the immigration rules. He had followed all the court’s rules. ICE’s treatment of Mr. Nhean showed no concern for public safety or law enforcement or the welfare of his U.S. citizen family members, including his wife, his children, and his father.”

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Immigrants' Rights

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Immigrants' Rights

Immigration Rights issue image

The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person, regardless of immigration status.