Detroit Case Illustrates When ICE May Forcibly Enter a Residence; Highlights Limitations of ATD Programs

By Dan Cadman on August 5, 2019

Not quite a month ago, I wrote a post about the circumstances and conditions under which ICE officers may enter residences to effect an arrest.

Almost on cue, about two weeks later a case made the news in metro Detroit that perfectly illustrates how these guidelines work in action. Here are the first three paragraphs of a story in the Detroit News:

A 34-year-old Iraqi refugee who cut his tether to escape deportation has been captured and will spend a week in federal detention before a bond hearing next month.

Ali Najim Al-Sadoon, an Iraqi refugee who was scheduled last month to be deported for a 2012 conviction, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit for a bond hearing in an orange jail jumpsuit and chains.

This comes four days after Department of Homeland Security investigators filed a complaint in federal court in Detroit against Al-Sadoon, alleging he removed his tether on June 23, the day he was set to be deported.

It transpires that after he cut the tether, agents procured the warrant and then conducted surveillance on his house, and as they saw him arrive from elsewhere, went in pursuit. He fled inside and slammed the door, but armed with a criminal warrant and in hot pursuit, they effected entry anyway to find that, inside, the man initially attempted to use his wife and children as shields rather than submit to arrest.

Reading the remainder of the story, we find that the criminal conviction on which his order of deportation was based was only one in a long string of convictions: so many, in fact, that any reasonable person might easily conclude that he is a career criminal. Here's how they appear to stack up, at least according to the articles I've read:

  • 2004 — unlawful use of a motor vehicle;
  • 2007 — larceny; breaking and entering with intent;
  • 2008 — entering without permission;
  • 2009 — two counts, fleeing and eluding;
  • February 2012 — safe cracking;
  • May 2012 — breaking and entering; and
  • 2013 — breaking and entering.

It's noteworthy that this man was the happy beneficiary of a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, which persuaded a district court judge to order ICE to release him (and many others) rather than be subjected to detention pending removal to Iraq, a country that — despite billions of dollars in aid, not to mention the thousands of U.S. military personnel who have lost their lives or been wounded fighting there — slow-walks requests by the United States to issue the travel documents needed to repatriate its citizens.

That court order is the reason that Al-Sadoon was on a "tether", an electronic monitoring bracelet or anklet such as is used for Alternative to Detention (ATD) cases, instead of in detention where he belonged. Given his extensive criminal history it is dismaying that ICE was forced into this circumstance due to the decision of a single district court judge — whose decision, parenthetically, was later overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Al-Sadoon was never a good risk candidate for such a program. In fact, he is living proof that, despite arguments to the contrary made frequently by migrant advocacy groups, sometimes there is just no good alternative to detaining an individual pending his immigration hearing and removal.

Speaking to the media, Al-Sadoon's wife, Belquis Florido is quoted as saying, "I'm pretty sure if he knew this was the outcome, he never would've done it. ... He knows he messed up." She went on to say, "They sentenced him to death. His mom was also in the hospital when he did this. He wants a second chance. He can live as a refugee."

A second chance? Go back and look at Al-Sadoon's criminal history. Would this not be more akin to a seventh or eighth chance? How could he be so stupid as not to think there would be repercussions for a refugee, a guest in this country, who has chosen to engage in criminal recidivism to the degree that he has? He had several chances and he blew them, one and all. Clearly he wasn't concerned about his mother, nor apparently his wife or children, during all of his many encounters with the law. Even at the end, he used them as a shield. Does this sound like a responsible son, husband, or father?