Sunday, November 23, 2003
Something I'm getting sick and tired of are these weepy stories about broken families, etc., when illegal immigrants are caught, packed up, and sent home. Stories like this:
Schaumburg cosmetologist Habeeba Zainab wants her husband back, even if it means pouring out her most private thoughts in a letter to immigration officials.

"Our relatives and friends, they say he not a good-looking person -- ‘Why you marry?' But I know …" Zainab writes in broken English. "He is good to me. He is gentle man. He is healthy, and hard worker. I don't care if he is not look so beautiful. I want a man who looks after me."

Native Pakistani Amir Hussain Shah promised, "I will take care of you." And he did take care of his often-sick wife -- right up until the U.S. government stuck him in prison for five months and deported him.

Shah was one of thousands of Muslims deported in a sweeping immigration crackdown targeting men from Islamic nations, the Chicago Tribune reported last week. The dragnet grew out of terrorist fears, but, according to the report, none of the thousands of men deported was charged with terrorism.
How terrible. U.S. immigration authorities enforced the law on the books, and never even gave the terrorists among those they deported prove themselves as such. Oh, the humanity!
"They cast a broad net over many Arab and Muslim nations," says Cleo Kung, an attorney who is handling Zainab's quest for her husband's return. Kung, who didn't get the case until after Shah was deported, says Shah may have avoided deportation in a different political climate.

"Say he wasn't from Pakistan, he wasn't Muslim and this had happened before 9/11," Kung says. "I think he would have been approved, gotten a green card, and they would be living as happily ever after as they could."
Say he wasn't an illegal alien, say he obeyed the law. Say he left for Pakistan when his visa expired. But he didn't. So he was shipped out. What a persuasive argument: if only our immigration enforcement was as lax as it had been before 9/11, more people could get away with illegal stays. In John Ashcroft's America, authorities whose job it is to enforce the law, are enforcing the law! The horror!

But wait, there's more:

As part of his job hiring workers for car washes, Shah was waiting for his boss about 5 a.m. Feb. 23 when police spotted him sleeping in his car. A routine background check revealed that Shah, who came to the United States as a visitor in 1991, had been denied asylum and had ignored a previous order to leave this country.
So the police find some guy hanging around in his car early Sunday morning, check his background, find out he's a scofflaw who is not supposed to be here, and have him shipped home. A stellar job. Exactly as it's supposed to be. But no, you're supposed to get your hankies ready, for here the article brings out the full-strength weep inducers:
"I feel very bad. I was crying. He is a very good man," Zainab says during an interview in the Schaumburg apartment she shares with her sons, Asim Saif, 21, and Omer Farooq, 20, who have visas that allow them to live and work here.

"He was a nice person. We are really missing him," the older son says of Shah. "I was very happy with him."
You know what? I don't doubt that Mr. Shah was a nice person. But there are lots of other nice people who want to be here, and we have our own nice people to protect, so if a nice person comes here illegally, overstays his visa, and ignores the order to leave, I expect the nice people at the INS to put him on a nice plane and send him back to his nice country of origin, which presumably also has plenty of nice people. If his wife and her children miss him so much, they can buy tickets to Karachi at their convenience.
Shah's case is just one of more than 13,000 recent deportation cases in which "there are a lot who have valid reasons to stay in this country," notes Ahmad Tansheet, community outreach coordinator for the Muslim Civil Rights Center in Hickory Hills.
Great. Convince the American authorities.
"My question is: Is America any safer today?" asks Tansheet, who lives in Bensenville.
While I'm normally not a fan of such statements, since Mr. Tansheet asks: yes, even if only one terrorist supporter has been booted out.
Interviewed by phone from his new home in the town of Mandi Bahauddin in Pakistan, Shah said he hopes the U.S. government will allow him to return to his home in Schaumburg.

"I'm following all the rules and regulations so I hope I can go back again and start my life with my family," he says.
Better late than never, I suppose.
"You cannot compare Pakistan to the United States," he says, explaining how his life in Pakistan is merely an existence. "Life is not to just sleep and eat."

An outsider in Pakistan, Shah lives with relatives.
Huh?! How is this man "an outsider" in his native land?
His wife's health problems cause "extreme hardship," says Kung, an attorney with the not-for-profit Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. Kung argues that Shah should be returned for humanitarian reasons.

"She is in need of family support if she becomes ill," reads a letter from her doctor, Alejandro Sanchez of Palatine, who notes that she suffers from hypertension, hypothyroidism and Type 2 diabetes.
OK, look, I don't mean to sound heartless, but the woman lived on her own until 2001, and she has two grown sons. She's only been married to Mr. Shah for two years. It's a shame what has happened to them -- a problem entirely of their own making -- but tragedy this is not. Frankly, I remain unconvinced that this 39-year-old illegal alien married a sickly 50-year-old woman who just happened to have U.S. citizenship, for purely noble reasons. Well, that's none of my affair, but I'm not going to get all broken down and demand exceptions to American immigration law simply because he didn't get away with breaking our laws.
If nothing else, Shah's case should remind other immigrants to "abide by the law," warns Tribhuvan Gaur, a volunteer with the immigration and naturalization desk at the Indo-American Center in Chicago.
Wow. Abide by the law -- now there's a newsflash.

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