On April 25, 2019, the ACLU of New Hampshire filed a federal lawsuit seeking the release of a Somalian immigrant who has been in continuous detention since 2016 – totaling two years and six months. Mahamed Ahmed-Cali fled Somalia after Al-Shabaab, a militant terrorist group in the country, made threats against his family. 

The U.S. government detained Mr. Ahmed-Cali when he lawfully presented himself at the port of entry in San Diego in 2016 in an effort to obtain asylum protection. Since then, ICE has transferred him to numerous immigration detention facilities in Massachusetts, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and finally, New Hampshire.

During this time, he was even subjected to a failed deportation attempt where deportees were reported to be abused for two days, including being shackled and beaten by ICE agents and forced to stay seated for a full 48 hours. At one point, Mr. Ahmed-Cali attempted to stand up to stretch his legs. An ICE guard then pushed him down, cutting his knee on the metal seat – an injury that still hurts him to this day. 

Previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions make it clear that the government cannot detain a person in immigration custody for longer than six months if they cannot deport the person in the “reasonably foreseeable future.” This means that if the person is not able to be deported for months or years, the government must justify their prolonged detention or release them.

On May 20, 2019, ICE released Mr. Ahmed-Cali following the filing of the ACLU-NH's lawsuit.


Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, Henry Klementowicz, ACLU-NH Staff Attorney, and SangYeob Kim, ACLU-NH Immigration Fellow

Date filed

April 25, 2019


U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire


Joseph N. Laplante



Case number