DOVER, N.H. — A federal judge has freed a Somali immigrant from Portland, Maine, who was held for nine months in a New Hampshire jail without a hearing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire contends Immigration and Customs Enforcement unlawfully detained Abdigani Faisal Hussein, 45.

Hussein was released from the Strafford County Jail on Thursday after being granted a bond hearing, where he was found to be neither a danger nor a flight risk.

Hussein entered the country lawfully in 1996 as a Somali refugee and became a permanent resident a year later. He is a tractor-trailer driver in Portland, which has a vibrant Somali community.

ICE detained him in March because he was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to probation for possessing khat, a leafy stimulant grown in East Africa that’s illegal in the U.S. It is a deportable offense, but he was granted permission to stay in the United States if he made periodic check-ins. After the Trump administration changed immigration policies, ICE detained him and Hussein was held in the Dover correctional facility, one of six places in New England for ICE detainees.

“This was a difficult matter to rule on. There’s not a lot of good authority,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante said Nov. 6 when he ordered that Hussein be granted a bond hearing. In his decision he noted several factors he considered, including the length of time Hussein had been detained, the fact that the government had previously released Hussein from immigration custody in 2007, and that there is a chance that he may not face a final removal order.

The ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in New Hampshire brought the lawsuit last month that led to Hussein’s being reunited with his family.

“Every person in this country has the right to due process. Cases like this are exactly why we formed the ACLU-NH Immigrants’ Rights Project, and we are happy to see Mr. Hussein reunited with loved ones,” said Devon Chaffee of ACLU New Hampshire.

There are others in Hussein’s situation, and a similar case is being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, his attorneys have said.

According to court documents, Hussein fled Somalia in 1991, after rebels shot at him and shot and killed his mother. He lived in Kenya for five years before entering the United States. He married his wife, a U.S. citizen, in 2004 and they have three children.

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