Global Citizen: March 2008 Archives
- This number is not intended for nationwide use. Unfortunately at present this number can only serve migrants in the New York/New Jersey area.
- This number should NOT be used for routine immigration
inquiries. It is meant to be called
in emergencies only: DURING an ICE raid or upon contact with ICE officers. This is a crucial time during which detention can potentially be avoided or negative legal consequences mitigated.
[Begin press release]
(Photo by Flickr user bnittoli used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.)
More than thirty years ago, Sami Al-Arian, the son of Palestinian refugees, came to the United States as an immigrant. He married, had a family, and eventually became a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida. Five years ago, after years of illegal surveillance of both he and his family, he was arrested for supporting terrorism.
The trial was a travesty. The government found no evidence (in 21,000 hours of illegal wiretapping!) such as would convict Al-Arian, but they tried to manipulate the emotions of the jury by showing videos of bombings in Israel, implying that Al-Arian was some sort of mastermind of such activities. The jury refused to convict. They ruled him innocent on eight charges, remaining deadlocked (10-2) on nine more.
As his continued incarceration was wearing on both he and his family, Al-Arian ultimately agreed to plead "guilty" to one charge consisting of such heinous crimes as lying to a reporter about whether or not he knew someone (this is against the law?). In any case, the agreement was that the government would release Al-Arian to join his family and leave the United States. In a last minute shocking move, however, the judge sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum possible for the trumped up charges and Al-Arian was shipped to a back-water county jail in Virginia where he was brought up before a Grand Jury and subsequently cited for contempt for not testifying. This meant MORE time to serve, of course, so he is now in his fifth year of continual incarceration without having been convicted of a single crime!
I'll continue now with the second part of my review of What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, by Dave Eggers. The first part was here, in case you missed it.
The book illuminates a rather serious problem for migrants
and migrant advocates. Migrants often
come to the