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New Complaint Describes Religious Discrimination, Egregious Abuse at La Palma Correctional Center

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Posted: Jan. 3, 2024

For Immediate Release
January 3, 2024

Arianna Rosales,, (408) 398-5140

Washington, DC – The National Immigration Project today filed a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of Hamad Moshen Thabit Saad Sayad (“Sayad”), a Yemeni citizen who came to the United States after fleeing persecution and experienced religious discrimination and abuse while in ICE custody. 

Mr. Sayad entered the United States in December 2020 and was detained at La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC), a facility owned by CoreCivic, until May 2022 while his applications for asylum and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) were pending. During his time in detention, Mr. Sayad was classified as a “high security detainee” without justification and placed in isolation after he refused requests from the detention facility to stop performing Fajr prayer, one of the daily prayers performed by Muslims. 

When Mr. Sayad went on hunger strike to protest this discriminatory treatment, officials pressured and lied to him to get him to eat, and then failed to follow a medically appropriate refeeding plan. Most disturbingly, LPCC medical staff made five unnecessary, highly traumatic, and unsuccessful attempts to insert a nasogastric tube into Mr. Sayad. The attempts caused lasting physical and neurological damage to Mr. Sayad, as well as intense psychological trauma. 

The administrative complaint argues that this conduct constitutes, at a minimum, the torts of false imprisonment, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and medical malpractice, assault and battery, medical malpractice, conversion, and religious discrimination. Hence, Mr. Sayad now seeks monetary damages pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. 

“Mr. Sayad’s experience in ICE custody highlights some of the blatant religious discrimination – especially against immigrants of Muslim faith –  that is pervasive throughout the U.S. immigration system,” said Khaled Alrabe, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Immigration Project. “This is not the first time that ICE has shown clear disregard for the well being of people in their custody. ICE must be held accountable for its mistreatment and gross medical neglect of Mr. Sayad, and Mr. Sayad must be compensated for the lasting physical, mental, and emotional trauma ICE has caused him.”

Mr. Sayad and his attorneys are available for comment upon request. Please contact Arianna Rosales ( to be connected. 


The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those most impacted by the immigration and criminal systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.