ADC: Palestinian Still Held in INS Indefinite Detention
ADC Action Alert:
Palestinian Man Still Held in Indefinite Detention by the INS
Please call Mr. David Venturella, INS Assistant Commissioner for
Detention at (202) 305-0188 and demand the release of Mohammad Bachir, a stateless Palestinian currently in indefinite detention by the INS. Mr. Venturella may also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or fax at (202) 353-9435 or you may write him at the US Department of
Justice, INS, 425 I. Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20536. You may also contact Mr. Juan Campos, INS Assistant District Director in Atlanta, by calling him at (404) 331-2765 extension 5400 to demand the release of Mr. Bachir.
ADC continues to monitor and advocate for the immigration case of Mr. Mohammad Bachir, a stateless Palestinian who has been in INS detention
for the past three years. Mr. Bachir was forced to serve an indefinite sentence in INS detention as a result of a 1996 immigration law called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA).
IIRAIRA requires deportation for non-citizens convicted of certain criminal offenses. However, this law fails to take into account those deportees who are stateless because they have no country to which they can return. Thus, when a stateless person is confined to mandatory detention pending a deportation, the result is a potential life sentence because the deportation cannot take place. Many of those affected have been Palestinian and Iraqi nationals.
Mr. Bachir, an accountant by profession, immigrated to the United States in 1981. In 1985, he married a US citizen, had a son and became a legal permanent resident. Mr. Bachir was later charged and convicted of a criminal offense (parental kidnapping). Mr. Bachir was arrested by immigration officials and ordered deported in 1996.
Unfortunately for Mr. Bachir, he is a stateless Palestinian. His family moved to Lebanon in 1948 and like most Palestinian refugees was not given citizenship in Lebanon. Thus, when Mr. Bachir left Lebanon he lost his legal residency and Lebanon refused to issue him travel documents to return. Consequently, immigration officials cannot deport him. Mr. Bachir continues to face a potential life sentence for being a stateless Palestinian who has no country to which he can be deported.
Mr. Bachir’s wife and ADC have made every attempt to have the INS release him but have faced numerous obstacles. At one point, immigration officials attempted to justify his detention by accusing him of being a terrorist. In another instance, immigration officials attempted to blame his detention on his wife and informed ADC that if his wife requested his release that they would release him. His wife immediately contacted immigration officials and informed them that she wants her husband released, but INS refused citing that he “might retaliate” against them for “trapping him”.
In December, INS officials informed and assured Mr. Bachir that he would be released before Christmas so that he can spend the holidays with his family. However, at 6 a.m. on the day of Mohammad’s intended release and with his bags packed, the INS changed its mind again, citing without evidence, that he is a “danger to society”.
Pursuant to Mr. Bachir’s December disappointment, ADC placed grassroots pressure on Mr. David Venturella, INS Assistant Commissioner for Detention, to investigate Mr. Bachir’s case. Mr. Veneturella, after continuous phone calls by ADC members and friends, agreed to review Mr. Bachir’s file which was subsequently forwarded to his office from the INS Atlanta District Office.
Unfortunately, the ADC Legal Department has recently learned that Mr. Venturella issued a decision denying the release of Mr. Bachir citing unjustified grounds for what borders on an extra-judicial detention. The INS provided Mr. Bachir with a form-letter of denial citing general reasons that often did not apply to Mr. Bachir’s case. One of the unjustified reasons include Mr. Bachir’s hunger strikes, which, according to detention guidelines, he has a legal right to conduct.