Westbrook man detained by ICE in 2017 back in jail

Abdi Ali at the time of his arrest in 2017.

WESTBROOK — A city man detained and facing deportation last year is back in jail, with a new charge against him to be filed by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Abdi F. Ali, 29, of 53 Haskell St., is now at Cumberland County Jail in Portland on a 20-day sentence for violating conditions of release. According to Police Capt. Steven Goldberg, he was arrested Feb. 21.

It was the second arrest this year for Ali by city police, he was charged with operating with a suspended or revoked license and operating under the influence on Jan. 6.

On Wednesday, John Mohan, a spokesman for the ICE Boston office said Ali will be held following his anticipated March 9 release on the violating conditions of release conviction.

After his arrest by Westbrook Police on Feb. 21, Mohan said Ali was also arrested by ICE agents at the jail on an outstanding immigration warrant.

“Upon completion of his sentence for the violating conditions of release Abdi Farah Ali will be arrested on the previous immigration violation, will be issued a new charge and his bond will be canceled,” Mohan said in an email.

Also on Wednesday, Cumberland County Jail Administrator John Costello said the March 9 release date was already in question as the state also had an outstanding warrant out for Ali.

ICE sought to deport Ali, a Somalian, last year, partly on the basis of a 2013 misdemeanor conviction for unlawful possession of scheduled drugs.

Ali came to the U.S. as a child and has permanent resident status as a refugee, his attorney, Robert Levine said Wednesday. However, because he has not become a naturalized citizen, he can be deported.

On April 6, 2017, Ali was arrested by ICE officers as he met with an attorney after appearing at Cumberland County Unified Criminal Docket in Portland.

Ali was in court facing a charge of operating under the influence that day, and his attorney, Tina Heather Nadeau, said their private conference was interrupted by an ICE agent. She said she and Ali were told ICE agents would be waiting for him when the conference was done.

“As I opened the door to let him out, three officers grabbed him, pushed him against the wall and handcuffed him,” Nadeau said at the time.

ICE agents may also have been acting in accordance with a Jan. 25, 2017, executive order signed by President Donald Trump entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” It instructs ICE to detain and deport immigrants who are here illegally or have criminal convictions.

In June 2017, Ali was granted $9,000 bail after being held in a jail in New Hampshire. Mohan said he was still wanted by ICE.

“Until his arrest, Ali been an At-Large Criminal Alien with multiple prior convictions whom ICE (Enforcement and Removal Operations) Officers had been actively searching for as a serious public safety threat based on his continued criminal activity after being released on Immigration Bond,” Mohan said.

Levine is also working to reverse Ali’s 2013 drug possession conviction. He said it is in dispute as to whether Ali was properly informed by his defense attorney that a guilty plea could lead to being sent back to Somalia.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton will review the conviction in May, Levine said.

Ali’s courthouse arrest last year led Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck and Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce to distance themselves from ICE procedures.

Joyce said his deputies do not enforce immigration laws, and took no role in detaining Ali.

“It is imperative that all the residents of our city are able to seek assistance from the police, and also provide us with the help we need to solve crimes and continue to make Portland a safe city. We know that cannot truly happen if they are in fear of the police,” Sauschuck said in an April 7, 2017, press release.

Last September, Joyce announced prisoners would not be held in jail on detainment requests by ICE past their sentence release dates unless there is a supporting warrant and charges.

Mohan did not say Wednesday what new charge Ali will face, but he will remain in jail.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Abdi Ali at the time of his arrest in 2017.