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Ropes & Gray, ACLU File Federal Petition to Challenge On-Going, Illegal Detention of Massachusetts Resident

Tags: Pro Bono

Ropes & Gray and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a petition for habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to block the detention without due process of Sreynuon Lunn, a man who has been unlawfully arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The petition, filed against U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE, and Suffolk County, Massachusetts, asserts that while Mr. Lunn’s removal from the United States has been ordered, federal agencies have been unable to find a country willing to issue him travel documents. Yesterday’s filing asserts that for several months DHS has detained Mr. Lunn in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Mr. Lunn was born in a Thai refugee camp to Cambodian parents who were fleeing the Khmer Rouge, and who brought him to the U.S. as a seven-month-old refugee in 1985. He has otherwise never lived in Cambodia and he has raised two children in the U.S. who are U.S. citizens and are still living in the United States. Nevertheless, DHS – in attempting to deport Mr. Lunn – has designated Cambodia as his country of origin, while the government of Cambodia has, for nine years, denied that Mr. Lunn is a Cambodian citizen.

In general, a non-citizen who has been ordered to be removed from the United States is detained during a 90-day removal period, and can be held longer only if they are deemed a “risk to the community” or are unlikely to comply with the order of removal – neither of which apply to Mr. Lunn.

The filing of Mr. Lunn’s petition for habeas corpus was examined in The Boston Globe (subscription required).

The Ropes & Gray team filing the petition on behalf of Mr. Lunn includes associates Jennifer Walker and Shivan Sarin. Earlier this year, a Ropes & Gray team filed an amicus brief relating to Mr. Lunn’s case in partnership with the ACLU of Massachusetts; the team included government enforcement partner Kirsten Mayer and associates Isabelle Farrar and Michael Jo.