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Criminal Justice & Legal System

ACLU seeks release of Haitian asylum seeker

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Virginia Gordan
/
Michigan Radio

A federal judge in Ann Arbor heard arguments Wednesday in a case involving a Haitian asylum seeker. 

Ansly Damus has been held by immigration authorities for nearly two years in a windowless cell.

That's according to a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union calling for his release.

The ACLU said Damus' attendance at today's hearing is the first time he's seen daylight in almost two years.

An immigration judge has granted asylum twice to Damus. But immigration authorities have refused to release him while the U.S. government appeals the asylum decisions.

The ACLU argued Damus' prolonged detention is unconstitutional.

"Unless the government can show that Damus poses a danger to the community or a flight risk, he should be released immediately," said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU.  

The ACLU's court filings said the government has provided no factual basis for Damus' ongoing detention and Damus has followed all the rules for seeking asylum in the United States. 

The civil liberties group said Damus has no criminal record, and has sponsors in Ohio who will provide him with a place to live and living expenses.

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