Nossaman Works with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to Assist Pro Bono Clients in Northern California
In May of 2020, Willis Hon, Stephanie Clark, Aalia Taufiq and Elizabeth Key, serving as co-counsel to Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (ALC), obtained releases on bail for two clients who were being detained at Yuba County Jail while awaiting removal proceedings by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Both are foreign nationals that resettled in the United States as young children after fleeing genocide perpetrated be the government in their home country. Each client suffers from serious preexisting medical conditions that increase the likelihood of severe complications from COVID-19.
Nossaman and ALC filed a joint petition for writ of habeas corpus against ICE in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in April 2020. The pleadings asserted that the conditions of confinement subjected petitioners to a substantial risk of serious harm due to the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 at Yuba County Jail, in violation of the constitutional guarantee under Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment that civil detainees, including all immigration detainees, may not be subjected to punishment or an unreasonable risk to detainees’ safety and health.
Ultimately, the case was joined into a larger class action proceeding involving similar habeas claims for all ICE detainees at both Yuba County Jail and Mesa Verde Detention Center, where the Judge granted the applications, allowing for petitioners’ conditional release pending the resolution of the class action proceeding.
Both clients are receiving medical attention and starting to rebuild their lives. One is serving as the primary family caretaker, and the other is enrolled in a jobs skills training and is volunteering with Asian Health Services. Their cases are still ongoing under the larger class action proceeding.