By Brandon Stahl
Cabduqaadir Mayow fled Somalia in 2014 and asked the United States for asylum, saying the terrorist group al-Shabab was threatening to kill him.
A judge, finding no credible evidence to support the claim, ordered him deported. But with no functioning government in Somalia, the Department of Homeland Security let Mayow go. He moved to Minnesota, married a U.S. citizen in 2015 and hoped they could start a life in the country.
During a check-in on June 10, 2017, ICE arrested him and told him he would be deported to Somalia. For nearly two years he sat in jail, despite never being charged with a crime.
Mayow is one of hundreds of immigrants who languish for months and sometimes years in Minnesota jails awaiting deportation. Some are legal residents, others are seeking asylum. Some have criminal records for crimes committed years ago. All are appealing their deportation orders, but most have never had a hearing to determine whether they would be a risk of fleeing or to the public if they were to be released until their appeal could be heard.
As their deportation cases grind on, many have filed claims — called habeas petitions — to federal judges arguing their due process rights are being violated and asking for their release. The number of habeas petitions in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota jumped from nine in 2015 to 77 last year. Nationally, the number of such petitions is on pace to hit more than 2,000 this year, the highest total in a decade.