Dear Chief Counsel Ungerman and Director Jennings:
We, the undersigned domestic violence organizations, write to you during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to call for the release of Ny Nourn (A027 752 551), a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor currently in immigration detention. Ms. Nourn, a refugee from Cambodia, was sentenced to life in prison for a murder committed by her abusive ex-boyfriend just weeks after she turned eighteen. In September, an Immigration Judge granted Ms. Nourn protection from deportation.
As longtime advocates and experts in the field of domestic violence, we believe Ms. Nourn is a survivor in need of support. Domestic violence victims often function in a “survival mode,” forced to focus on what they can do to avoid being beaten or killed in that moment. Four psychologists confirmed that the abuse Ms. Nourn suffered, and that her young age prevented her from intervening and stopping her abusive ex-boyfriend committing the murder. As organizations that serve domestic violence survivors, stories like Ms. Nourn’s are sadly familiar to us.
In spite of obstacles, Ms. Nourn has persevered and pursued certification to be a substance abuse counselor to help others while she was incarcerated. Additionally, Ms. Nourn has undergone training to become a domestic violence advocate and will be an enormous asset to our communities, not a danger. Domestic violence survivors such as Ms. Nourn deserve support toward healing and safety, not punishment.
We understand that like other agencies, the Department of Homeland Security has discretion when deciding whether to appeal a case. We also understand that the Department of Homeland Security’s policy is to favor release of individuals granted relief absent exceptional concerns such as a danger to the community. See Memo, Asst. Sec. Garcia, “Detention Policy Where an Immigration Judge has Granted Asylum and ICE has Appealed” (February 9, 2004). As anti-violence advocates and experts, we firmly believe that it is in the best interest of the community to have Ms. Nourn released from ICE custody. During her immigration court hearing, over 40 people, including domestic violence advocates, packed the court to show support for Ms. Nourn. Her strong ties to the community and steadfast commitment to supporting domestic violence survivors demonstrate she poses no danger to the community.
We respectfully urge the Department of Homeland Security to dismiss its appeal of Ms. Nourn's grant of relief and to release her from custody.