Cases

Immigrants' Rights

“Commonwealth v. Lunn” and “Lunn v. Smith”

UPDATE: On July 24, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling in Commonwealth v. Lunn limiting how state and local law enforcement assist with federal immigration enforcement. Read our statement.

For more information about this decision, problems with Gov. Baker’s attempt to authorize warrantless detention of immigrants and legislative efforts to protect all Massachusetts residents, read an August 10 memo by the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).


On March 20, 2017, the ACLU of Massachusetts together with Ropes & Gray, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the Federal Immigration Appeals Project submitted an amicus brief in Commonwealth v. Lunn. The case, which was argued at the Supreme Judicial Court on April 4, 2017, addresses whether local and state officials who hold undocumented immigrants on “ICE detainers” are in violation of the Massachusetts state constitution and the United States constitution.

Sreynuon Lunn, who was born in a Thai refugee camp to Cambodian parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge, was unlawfully arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Mr. Lunn was brought to the U.S. as a seven-month-old refugee in 1985 and has otherwise never lived in Cambodia. He has raised two children in the U.S., both of whom are U.S. citizens who are still living in the U.S.

The brief in Commonwealth v. Lunn was filed on behalf of several defense attorney organizations arguing that the state’s cooperation with ICE detainers not only violates constitutional protections against warrantless arrests but also creates a substantial risk of discriminatory – and unlawful – enforcement.

A related case, Lunn v. Smith, focuses on the legality of Mr. Lunn’s detention. The ACLU of Massachusetts serves as Mr. Lunn’s counsel in this case.

On July 11, 2017, a federal judge allowed Mr. Lunn’s challenge to his repeated unlawful ICE detentions to move forward.

@ACLU_Mass