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Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union

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Immigration Court Cases

Highlights Over the Years

The American Civil Liberties Union is actively dedicated to vindicating the Statue of Liberty’s invitation by advocating for the rights of immigrants. In recent years particularly, this has become an area of significant activity by the Rhode Island Affiliate.


1981: Nason v. North Smithfield

Successful federal lawsuit challenging town decision to prohibit a couple from attending, participating in, or voting at financial town meeting because of the couple’s status as resident aliens; after suit was filed, the town agreed to let them participate.

1989: In re Harrison Jiedeuh

Successful petition for political asylum filed with the INS on behalf of a Liberian journalist who fled to this country after being threatened with harm by Liberian Officials; an immigration judge granted the petition.

1990: Yang v. Sturner

Favorably settled federal lawsuit on behalf of a family whose son was autopsied against their religious beliefs; this case was cited by Congress in passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

1991: Cambodian Society of R.I. v. Town of West Warwick

Successful federal lawsuit challenging a town's decision to cancel a Cambodian group's use of Civic Center based on fears of possible violence at the event.

1999: Hermanowski v. Farquharson

This was the first of a number of successful cases handled by the Affiliate challenging, on due process grounds, the indefinite detention by the INS of lawful permanent residents awaiting deportation.

2000: State v. Awad

“Friend of the court” brief supporting the right of a criminal defendant to withdraw his nolo plea to a misdemeanor offense because he was not informed that the consequences of such a plea would be deportation.

2001: Garcia-Nunez v. Reno

Successful habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of an immigrant facing mandatory deportation for a criminal offense committed before the federal law requiring such deportation was enacted.

2001: Vieira-Garcia v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

“Friend of the court” brief on behalf of a juvenile facing automatic deportation after being found guilty of an offense in adult state court, where the offense would have qualified only as delinquency under federal law.

2001: In re: Ang Souvannaphavoung

Successful appeal to Immigration Judge to terminate deportation removal proceedings against a Laotian immigrant who feared persecution if returned to his native land.

2003: Podoprigora v. INS

Court brief filed in support of this lawful permanent resident alien’s habeas corpus petition challenging a federal law mandating his detention while undergoing deportation proceedings.

2005: R.I. ACLU v. State of Rhode Island [Court Interpreters]

Complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that the state has failed to provide adequate interpreter services to criminal defendants.

2006: Estrada v. R.I. State Police

“Racial profiling” lawsuit challenging the hour-long detention of a van based solely on the ethnicity of the driver and passengers.

2010: R.I. ACLU v. Rhode Island Department of Human Services

A consent order was entered in response to this complaint, filed with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, charging that DHS failed to provide adequate interpreter services to clients with limited English proficiency.

2011: Qu v. Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation

Federal lawsuit on behalf of the family of a 34-year-old Chinese detainee who died while in the custody of immigration officials at the Wyatt Detention Facility. 


Return to: Recent Immigration Cases


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