Of the 103 inmates held at the Butler County jail under a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, five come from countries listed under President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, according to an I-Team analysis of jail records.
One went straight from state prison, where he served a sentence for aggravated robbery, to the jail where he is facing deportation to Iraq.
Another claims he was beaten and jailed as a journalist in Somalia. His application for asylum was denied and he was ordered deported but has languished for months in the county jail, he says, because Somalia has no government to accept him.
The I-Team obtained a list of inmates at the Butler County jail under a contract the county has to hold ICE detainees from across the state and nation. Immigration court proceedings are not public, but the newspaper worked with ICE and searched other available records to determine why five people from three of the listed countries are behind bars locally facing deportation.
Abdurahman Dhalow, 29, moved into the Butler County jail on Jan. 6 after serving a year and a half in state prison on an assault and robbery conviction out of Franklin County.
Hanad Mahad-Mire, 27, was arrested while crossing the border in Brownsville, Texas, in January 2016. He sought asylum, claiming he was a journalist and was jailed and beaten in his home country and accused of writing “propaganda” critical of Somalia. His application was denied, and he was ordered to be removed from the U.S. in May 2016. ICE officials say they are working with the Somali government to secure his removal from the country, but he argues in court that there is no functioning government for ICE to be working with.
Mohammad Hassan Ali, 28, had been in the U.S. since 2001. Records show he has a domestic violence conviction in San Diego in 2010. He was ordered removed from the country in 2011 but wasn’t taken into custody until he was arrested by ICE officers in Columbus in May 2016. He has argued in court filings that he is sitting indefinitely in jail because Somalia has no government with which the U.S. can negotiate his deportation.
Seyed Khaleghi, 27, was ordered removed by an immigration judge in August 2011 after he pleaded guilty to a 2009 aggravated robbery. While facing state charges, he was out on bond, according to Franklin County records. He went to state prison in 2011 and was released to ICE custody at the Butler County jail in December 2016.
Mohamad Jabrini, 31, was ordered removed by an immigration judge in December 2016. He was arrested by federal authorities at the Brownsville, Texas port of entry in May 2016. ICE officials say they are not aware of any additional criminal history.
Asylum difficult to prove
The country with the most people on ICE detainers at the jail is Mexico, with 27.
Firooz Taghi Namei, who briefly served as an attorney for Mahad-Mire, the 27-year-0ld from Somalia, said he represents clients who face deportation for minor crimes, sometimes long in their past. Many others, he said, are ordered removed in absentia because they relocate and don’t receive a summons to report to immigration court.
“The bar is very low,” he said.
He believes Mahad-Mire should have received asylum but made the mistake of representing himself during the hearing process.
“In order to win asylum, even when you have a lawyer, it’s very difficult. You have to prove you have a well-founded fear of persecution or you have suffered past persecution because of your religion, because of your political activities, because of your membership in a special group,” he said. “If you cannot prove one of those, or if the judge thinks you are not credible, then the asylum is denied.”
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