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Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Lorie Gildea
In this June 25, 2019, photo, Gov. Tim Walz (center) addresses an applicant during his first hearing as chair of the state Board of Pardons. Attorney General Keith Ellison, left, also was making his first appearance with the board. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, right, was the board’s veteran member. (File photo: Kevin Featherly)

Walz asks ICE to stop deportation of pardon seeker

Gov. Tim Walz is asking officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop deportation proceedings for a woman he says will be in grave danger if she is returned to her native Ethiopia.

Amreya Shefa was convicted of manslaughter for fatally stabbing her husband in 2013 in an act that she described as self-defense after she said he held her prisoner in her home and repeatedly raped her. On the night of Habibi Tesema’s death, court records show Shefa had been beaten and raped. A murder charge was dismissed but she was convicted of manslaughter after a judge found she used excessive force to defend herself.

Shefa sought a pardon, which Walz supported, but it was not granted. The Supreme Court has since upheld state law  that says Board of Pardons decisions must be unanimous to award clemency.

Now, Walz is asking ICE to “administratively close” removal proceedings against Shefa while officials consider her applications for nonimmigrant status for crime victims, the  Star Tribune reported.

Walz wrote in a Sept. 24 letter to Timothy Perry, chief of staff for ICE in Washington, D.C., that Shefa’s life will be in “grave danger” if she is deported.

“She will be vulnerable to the practice of retaliatory killing at the hands of her late husband’s family, who have made credible threats against her life,” Walz wrote.

A spokesperson for ICE declined to comment to the Star Tribune.

Andrew Crowder, an attorney for Shefa, said there is a lot of uncertainty in Shefa’s situation, including the unknown of whether she will be taken back into custody pending immigration proceedings.

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