Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | Providence, R.I. | AP's The Wire | Providence, R.I. | AP's The Wire

06.15.2004 08:36 A.M.
Immigrant held for three years pending deportation
The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - An Ethiopian immigrant who overstayed his visa has been detained for three years pending deportation, after being declared a danger based on a misdemeanor complaint.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Lovegreen in April ordered Sirak Gebremichael released, calling the situation, "Nothing short of Kafkaesque."

Gebremichael has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday to set the terms of his bail. The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has stepped in to represent him.

The Providence Journal reports Gebremichael was first taken into custody in May 2001, a year after his three-year visa expired. He agreed to his deportation, but an immigration court held that he could be imprisoned pending that action because he presented "a danger to the community."

That was based on a Massachusetts warrant charging him with "annoying a person of the opposite sex," a misdemeanor, even though he had never been convicted of any crime, the ACLU said.

For more than 15 months, the ACLU said, the immigration service "did nothing to either deport him or to reconsider his jailed status."

Only after Gebremichael filed his habeas corpus petition in January did the immigration service get back in touch with the Ethiopian embassy to try to arrange for his deportation.

But in April, with still no change in Gebremichael's status, Lovegreen granted his petition for release.

He requested that the matter "be remanded to this court for a hearing on bail, supervision and other appropriate conditions under which Gebremichael may be released until his deportation can be effected."

Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Ernest Torres affirmed Lovegreen's ruling, and gave the government until June 10 to deport him before authorizing his release.


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