Judge Rules Refugee Can Be Deported for Lying About ISIS Involvement on Immigration Papers

A judge ruled Tuesday that an Iraqi refugee accused of killing for the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) is eligible for deportation because he lied on his application when entering the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi government and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allege that Omar Abdulsattar Ameen was part of an ISIS group that killed Police Officer Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim in the town of Rawah in 2014 and kept his membership in two terrorist groups a secret before gaining refugee status and resettling in Sacramento, California.

AP reported that Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Tara Naselow-Nahas rejected the allegations but still ruled that he lied when filling out his refugee application because he did not disclose that he interacted with a cousin "who is clearly a member of an armed terrorist group."

The judge also found that Ameen lied when he said his father had been fatally shot and his brother had been kidnapped. Based on the government's recommendation, she said that Ameen should be deported to Iraq or Turkey, where he was living before entering the United States.

Ameen's attorneys said he would likely be executed if he returned to Iraq. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan said there is cellphone evidence showing Ameen was in Turkey during the 2014 killing.

In the AP report, Ameen's lawyer, Siobhan Waldron, said they would continue to fight against deportation.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Omar Ameen, refugee, deportation, IS
An immigration judge ruled Tuesday that Omar Abdulsattar Ameen lied when he was filling out his refugee application so he is eligible for deportation. This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office shows Ameen, an Iraqi refugee accused of committing a killing for the Islamic State militant group. File/U.S. Attorney's Office via AP

Federal authorities have tried since 2018 to return Ameen to Iraq under a treaty with that nation, and he was quickly seized by immigration authorities after Brennan's ruling. Ameen will continue to fight deportation, and he will seek to be released on bond, Waldron said.

He can now object that he faces too much danger to be deported, even though he was found to be eligible. He will go before Naselow-Nahas for a week of hearings set for late January and early February, and if she rules against him can seek review by the Board of Immigration Appeals and then the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The fight is far from over," Waldron said. She contended that "this is all based on unfounded rumors."

FBI investigators testified over days of intermittent hearings scattered over several months that Ameen told inconsistent stories under questioning, and that close family members also have ties to terrorist groups. Ameen has argued he felt under duress during the interviews out of fear for his family.

Federal prosecutors said he returned to Iraq that same month and killed the police officer in Rawah after it fell to the ISIS group.

Ameen fled to Turkey in 2012. He was granted status as a refugee in the United States in June of 2014 on the grounds that he was a victim of terrorism.

Brennan said in April that cellphone records showed "Ameen was in Turkey, not Iraq, on the day of the murder." The judge noted Ameen passed a lie detector test and said he had "serious doubt" on the reliability of witnesses who placed Ameen in Iraq at the time of the killing.