Local Immigration Fight Could Come to Detroit Court in November

The lawyer for Ded Rranxburgaj, an Albanian immigrant who has been held up in a church to avoid deportation and be able to care for his family, is taking the administration of Donald Trump to court.

In June, George Mann, Rranxburgaj’s attorney, filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, retired Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan, and Regional ICE Director Rebecca Adducci.

Attorneys for the federal employees filed a motion to dismiss Mann’s lawsuit, but U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood set a public hearing for November 13 for Mann to respond to that motion.

“Ded is suffering terribly being holed up in the church for so many months,” Mann told the Great Lakes Beacon. “He is a very hard worker who worked two jobs for many years. His family is suffering with him.”

Rranxburgaj sought asylum when he and his wife, Flora, came to the United States around 2001, but he was formally denied around 2006. The following year, his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has become wheelchair-bound (and deemed too ill to be deported) and Ded Rranxburgaj became her primary caretaker. As such, Ded Rranxburgaj was granted humanitarian deferred action on yearly basis since 2009.

“They were ready to comply with the deportation order (in 2007), but could not due to Flora’s condition,” Mann said. “They’ve been law-abiding since they arrived 17 years ago. Inexplicably, las year, ICE refused to issue a decision on our application for humanitarian deferral. Instead, they forced Ded to buy an airline ticket.”

Ded Rranxburgaj had his last supervision appointment about a week before he would have been forced to leave, but he decided to seek sanctuary rather than leave his ill wife behind.

“ICE then declared him a fugitive, and his deferral application moot. We asked for reconsideration (and were) denied. I sent them a 20-page legal brief showing the legal term ‘fugitive’ did not fit this situation – nothing,” Mann said, adding that he tried numerous other actions to no avail. “Our position is very simple: ICE improperly failed to make a decision on our application for deferral. Ded is not a fugitive under the law.”

Mann said Judge Hood has the power to order ICE to adjudicate the deferred action request. An even better outcome would be if the federal government decided to avoid “the adverse publicity from a public hearing and relent before the hearing,” he said, adding there is some precedent of that kind of action in similar cases across the country.

For the time being, Ded Rranxburgaj will stay at the church in sanctuary, but Michigan United, an immigrants’ rights organization, is calling for as many supporters as possible to attend the hearing, which will take place at the U.S. District Court in Detroit at 2:30 p.m. on November 13.

The Rranxburgaj’s would be able to return to life as normal if the humanitarian deferral is granted (as had been done every year since 2009 until the Trump administration).

A large part of the Trump administration’s campaign was to kick immigrants out the country and build a wall on the country’s southern border with Mexico, and Trump has hardly let up on that since taking office. Whether it’s signing executive orders to ban people from majority Muslim countries or separating families and detaining them in cages, there is little the Trump administration hasn’t tried.

Most recently, they announced a proposal to make it much more difficult for immigrants to come to the United States or remain in the country if they use, or are likely to use, housing vouchers, food subsidies, and other “non-cash” forms of public assistance.

Mann said the actions of this administration and local ICE officials have been “capricious” and “mean-spirited,” and that’s exactly why his client’s case is so important.

“If the public reaction will be strong enough, it may help improve things,” Mann said. “If we fail in our efforts to help Ded and his family, we can expect ICE to get even harsher going forward.”

Danielle Emerson

Danielle Emerson