ACLU-PA filed a habeas corpus petition in August alleging that ICE was illegally detaining Mamadu Balde.
Balde came to this country in 1999 from civil war-ravaged Sierra Leone. He was denied asylum and placed into removal proceedings. After he exhausted all appeals in 2011, ICE took him into custody to deport him back to Sierra Leone. The country had no record of his citizenship—not an unusual occurrence—and thus refused to accept him back. Balde spent over nine months in detention in 2012 before being released. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that people whose native country will not receive them cannot be held indefinitely, and set a presumptive maximum of six months detention.
After release, Balde married a U.S. citizen, was gainfully employed and paying taxes, and bought a house in Charleston, WV. He complied with all release conditions, checking in with ICE every two months. Nonetheless, on June 14, ICE decided to detain Balde again. On June 23, Sierra Leone once again refused to issue travel documents, but ICE continued to detain Balde at York County Prison.
After the U.S. Department of State threatened diplomatic sanctions against Sierra Leone and four other countries unless they began accepting more people the U.S. was trying to deport, Sierra Leone agreed to accept Balde and several other individuals born in Sierra Leone with whom the ACLU-PA had been working. Balde was subsequently deported to Sierra Leone.
Balde u. Doll. ATTORNEYS: Lively (JBM Legal); Walczak, Cowart (ACLU-PA).