Judge dismisses suit against ICE filed by immigrant in Detroit church sanctuary
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DETROIT– A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday filed on behalf of an Albanian immigrant who has been in sanctuary inside a Detroit church trying to avoid deportation.
Judge Denise Page Hood of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan said the case involved issues that are outside her jurisdiction.
In January 2018, Ded Rranxburgaj, 49, of Southgate took refuge in Central United Methodist Church after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had told him he would be deported. A former cook who overstayed his visa, Rranxburgaj said he needed to stay in the U.S. to take care of his ailing wife, Flora, who has multiple sclerosis.
ICE declared him a fugitive from the law, but has not attempted to enter the church to remove him since he took sanctuary.
In her decision, Hood wrote: “While Rranxburgaj might have a legitimate legal question, this is not the proper forum to address Rranxburgaj’s claim.”
In June 2018, attorney George Mann filed a lawsuit urging the court to intervene and block Rranxburgaj’s removal. Mann asked the court to say that Rranxburgaj was not a fugitive. Hood did not say whether he was a fugitive. She merely said her court was not the place for this decision to be made.
“Since Rranxburgaj’s claim pertains to a final removal order, he must pursue his claim with the Court of Appeals,” Hood wrote.
Mann told the Free Press he is considering filing an appeal, but is still reviewing the court’s ruling.
“We are considering that possibility,” Mann said. “Rranxburgaj is eager to take this invitation and pursue his rights in the the federal Court of Appeals. He continues to place his faith in the courts and looks forward to a favorable decision.”
Dad facing deportation:Man who is sole caregiver to ill wife takes refuge at Detroit church
Mann said Rranxburgaj can’t be considered a fugitive because the Albanian immigrant kept ICE “fully apprised of his whereabouts.”
“ICE knows perfectly well where Rranxburgaj can be found,” Mann said.
The lawsuit was filed against the heads of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, the Detroit ICE office, and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Immigrant advocates held protests in support of Rranxburgaj in November in Detroit during his court hearing.
Khaalid Walls, spokesman for Detroit ICE, did not comment on the judge’s ruling. But he added that ICE generally avoids places like churches.
“Current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations unless they have prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or in the event of exigent circumstances. The locations specified in the guidance include schools, places of worship and hospitals.”
Follow Niraj Warikoo on Twitter: @nwarikoo
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