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CAIR-AZ Files Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus for Palestinian Asylum Seeker Held in ICE Detention Facility

CAIR logo(PHOENIX, AZ, 2/23/2016) – The Arizona chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today announced the filing of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in Federal Court, seeking the release of a Palestinian asylum seeker who has been detained indefinitely by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

[NOTE: A writ of habeas corpus (literally to “produce the body”) is a court order to a person or agency holding someone in custody to deliver that individual to the court issuing the order.]

The petition was filed on behalf of one of two men, Hisham Ghalia and Mounis Hammouda, both Palestinian nationals, who arrived in the United States in November 2014 to seek asylum from war-torn Gaza. Both men left Gaza for a United Nations refugee camp in Cyprus before traveling to Venezuela. From Venezuela, the two men traveled thousands of miles through numerous Central American nations before finally arriving at the Nogales port of entry. Both men have been detained at ICE’s Florence Detention Center since arriving in the United States.

The petition, filed at the United States Federal Court, District of Arizona on behalf of Hisham Ghalia, marks the first step in seeking the release from indefinite detention.


From Suffering to Detention: Why Does the U.S. Put Asylum Seekers Behind Bars?

Palestinian Refugees in Limbo After 7,000 Mile Journey to U.S. Border

While Hammouda's asylum claim is still pending, Ghalia is ready to go back to Gaza after his asylum claim was denied. However, Ghalia’s removal has been delayed for more than six months due to the lack of a diplomatic relationship between the United States and the Palestinian Authority – the source of Ghalia’s travel documents. 

“The Government has essentially detained Mr. Ghalia indefinitely due to political issues beyond his control,†said CAIR-AZ Civil Rights Director Liban Yousuf. “It is unconstitutional to force Mr. Ghalia to remain in detention indefinitely, while it has been determined that he poses no threat to the community.”

The Law Offices of Zayed Al-Sayyed PLLC., is lead counsel on the case. The petition seeks supervised release of Mr. Ghalia until he can be removed back to Gaza.

Read the entire petition:  

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-AZ Civil Rights Director Liban Yousuf, 480-704-3786,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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