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Lawsuit over cold cell at Detroit border clears key hurdle

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man who said he was forced to remove his coat and shoes before spending four hours in a cold cell can sue a U.S. border officer, a judge said this week.

Anas Elhady, a U.S. citizen of Yemeni descent, was stopped at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit while returning from Windsor, Ontario, in April 2015.

Elhady said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took his shoes, belt, watch and jacket and occasionally asked him questions, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

He was later taken to a hospital where his body temperature was 96 degrees. Elhady was given oxygen and blankets. Border officers returned him to the Ambassador Bridge station and released him.

“Elhady has presented enough evidence that a reasonable jury could find that he was placed in a cell at freezing or near-freezing temperatures for at least four hours, and that such treatment constitutes a violation of his right to be free from exposure to severe weather and temperatures,” U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said.

The lawsuit will move ahead against one officer.

The government doubted that the cell could have been extremely cold without affecting the rest of the building.


Judge orders immigration detention hotline restored

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to restore a free hotline that let detained immigrants report concerns about custody conditions until shortly after it was featured on the TV show “Orange Is the New Black.”

U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction ordering officials to restore the hotline that had been run by the nonprofit Freedom for Immigrants since 2013.

Freedom for Immigrants alleged that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement yanked the line in August after it was featured on the Netflix show, which drew attention to the group’s criticism of immigration detention conditions.

Birotte ruled that the nonprofit’s speech “was a substantial and motivating factor” behind the shutdown, and the move forced immigrants to pay $1 a minute to call the group on a line that is now monitored by the government.

“This case should remind us all that the Trump administration is not a law unto itself, but rather accountable to the people and our Constitution," Christina Fialho, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when the line would be restored.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement previously said the nonprofit had misused the hotline by using three-way calling to let immigration detainees speak with family. The line was not monitored or recorded, the agency said, so immigrants could find and speak with lawyers about their cases.

The nonprofit also runs visitation programs at immigration detention facilities across the country.

The hotline received between 600 and 14,500 calls per month, according to the lawsuit.

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