On April 7, 2017, Saudi national Abdullah Mansour Abriq, a former student at Tennessee State University, sued Metro Nashville, Davidson County and their sheriff Daron Hall alleging that being held in the Davidson County jail on a detainer request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), violates his constitutional rights and that the sheriff is prohibited from cooperating with ICE.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court with Abriq as the lead plaintiff, is a class action on behalf of “hundred and likely thousands of immigrants” being held because of ICE detainer requests, and will be heard by Obama nominated Chief Judge Waverly Crenshaw whose lifetime appointment was supported by Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker.
Abriq is identified in the complaint as a “foreign national who immigrated to the United States under an F-1 student visa.” The F-1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows a person to be educated in the U.S. if they meet certain conditions. Typically, absent an extension, the student must leave the country once the term or conditions of the visa expire. Visa overstayers are considered unlawfully present in the U.S. and can be deported.
In 2016, a bill endorsed by the Haslam administration was passed by the General Assembly which now requires reporting to the Tennessee Department of Safety regarding students entering and exiting the state’s universities, vocational and technical schools using either F-1 or M-1 visas. The vote was unanimous in the Senate, whereas almost all Democrats in the House voted no.
A second bill was passed in 2016 authorizing the commissioner of safety to “issue a subpoena for valid law enforcement purposes” and compel disclosure of information related to any student using either the F-1 or M-1 visa. This bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.
Visa security and the ability to track who comes in and who departs the country when a visa expires, is considered an integral element of national security.
As far back as 1998, U.S. Senator Democrat Diane Feinstein, was explicit during an on-the-record hearing about the vulnerability posed to homeland security by student visas issued to “terrorist supporting countries and INS’ inability to track those who come into the country either using a student visa or using fraudulent documents through the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.”
At least one of the 9/11 attackers entered the U.S. legally using a student visa.
A 2017 Office of Inspector General report, DHS Tracking of Visa Overstays is Hindered by Insufficient Technology, documents that in fiscal year 2015, over 10.8 million non-immigrant visas were issued along with the failure of DHS to have implemented a biometric entry-exit system for tracking foreign nationals by the 2009 deadline. As a result, in 2013, Congress transferred development of the system to Customs and Border Patrol.
ICE is responsible for removing visa overstays, estimates of which range from 30-60% with student overstays constituting a considerable portion of this illegal immigrant population.
Abriq’s lawsuit is being used to bootstrap the case of foreign nationals who enter the country illegally and get held on an ICE detainer request, to a case of a legally admitted foreign national on a student visa who overstayed, was picked up by ICE and is being held in a Davidson County detention facility pending removal proceedings.
Elliott Ozment and three additional lawyers from the firm of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings are representing Abriq.
Attorney Ozment is candid about his opposition to President Trump’s Executive Order addressing sanctuary cities and criminal aliens. Just two days after the EO was issued, Ozment began posting information using the hyperbolic language of “mass deportations” common to the open border advocates.
Just days after President Trump’s inauguration, the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) launched the “Communities of Trust” and “Neighborhood Defense Committees” campaigns using the same unfounded claim that illegal aliens in Tennessee would be rounded up for mass deportations.
The “Communities of Trust” messaging stated:
Last week the president shared his blueprints for mass deportation and made clear he needs state and local agencies to act as his deportation force. Join with TIRRC members in your local area to stop your city/county from collaborating with ICE and to create communities of trust where all residents feel safe.
Sanctuary cities are defined in part, by their non-cooperation with ICE. If Judge Crenshaw upholds Abriq’s claims that Nashville’s sheriff is prohibited from cooperating with ICE and that illegal immigrants in Nashville cannot be detained when requested by ICE, the city will, by judicial decree become a de facto sanctuary city.