|Written by Michael Boyle|
|Saturday, 05 June 2010 10:25|
From false accusations of involvement with terrorism to green card and citizenship, fighting heavy government resisitance at every step
Ali Al-Maqtari, a French teacher from Yemen, came to the United States in June 2000 from France, where he had been studying. He visited relatives in New York for a month and then came to visit a family friend in Connecticut. In November 2000, with the assistance of a mentor from a local adult education center, he applied for an extension to his tourist visa. In the Spring of 2000, he visited the local state university and applied successfully for admission to a program that would let him get his certification as a teacher of French.
Marriage and plans
Although his initial plan was to student teach in the United States and then resume his career in Yemen, his plans changed after he met and married his wife, Tiffinay, a United States citizen. They got married on June 1, 2001 and filed a marriage application with the INS Hartford, Connecticut office in August. Tiffinay had been a member of the National Guard in her home state of North Carolina, and after the couple married, she decided to enlist as a full-time soldier. In mid-August her enlistment was finalized and she was told that she would receive final orders and be stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky for at least a year, beginning in mid-September.
Interrogation and arrest
Ali and Tiffinay were then interrogated by INS, Army, and FBI investigators for more than twelve hours. Although the Al-Maqtaris cooperated by answering all questions put to them, their interviewers resorted to a host of sordid tricks to try and "psych them out." For example the investigators said that the Springfield, Massachusetts recruiting center had been blown up be terrorists twenty minutes after the couple left for Kentucky. The investigators also insisted that the couple had never made an INS application, that their marriage was fake, and that Mr. Al-Maqtari was abusive.
Held without bond
The reality was much different, and harsher. The INS set bond at $50,000, an extraordinary amount for immigration proceedings, where bonds are usually cash bonds. We requested a bond hearing with an Immigration Judge for the bond to be lowered to a reasonable level. We submitted about forty pages of documents corroborating the Al-Maqtaris' story. In the meantime, on September 24, without the required notice to Mr. Al-Maqtari or his attorneys, the INS changed his status to no bond. We also learned that the hearing would be secret, under the authority of an unpublished memo from the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge.
First secret hearing
The first bond hearing was extremely tense. Mr. and Mrs. Al-Maqtari were closely cross-examined by the INS Trial Attorney and Immigration Judge Charles Pazar for almost two hours. The government presented no witnesses or documentary evidence, but raised the specter of September 11 at length. Both parties' positions are revealed at length in their briefs to the Board of Immigration Appeals, below.
Win at the Board of Immigration Appeals
The INS submitted a boilerplate affidavit by FBI Agent Michael E. Rolince along with its brief. Like the INS' position at the bond hearing, it raised the specter of September 11 without saying anything meaningful about Mr. Al-Maqtari.
The Justice Department finally concedes
At bond hearings on October 22 and October 25, Immigration Judge Pazar gave the INS two "last chances" to provide concrete negative evidence against Mr. Al-Maqtari. Otherwise, he said, he would significantly lower Mr. Al-Maqtari's bond. A further hearing on October 30 was canceled because of an anthrax scare at the prison. At Mr. Al-Maqtari's final hearing on November 6, the government capitulated. The INS had ended its inquiry and the government stipulated to a $10,000 bond. The government's agreement to a bond was essential because under a new regulation (Adobe Acrobat version of regulation) issued on October 31, the INS could have filed for an automatic stay if it disagreed with the Immigration Judge's decision, effectively prolonging Mr. Al-Maqtari's detention for months.
Approval of green card application
On November 8, 2001 Tiffinay Al-Maqtari arrived in Memphis and posted her husband's bond. On September 9, 2002 an Immigration Judge in Hartford, CT granted Mr. Al-Maqtari's adjustment of status application, granting him permanent residence. About a week later, Tiffinay Al-Maqtari gave birth to the couple's first son, Ahmed. Mr. and Mrs. Al-Maqari now have two children. The family live in Connecticut, where both parents are teachers.
Citizenship after further struggle
Remarkably, USCIS continued to mistreat Mr. Al-Maqtari for years. Although the Immigration Judge approed Mr. Al-Maqtari's case, USCIS refused to issue his green card. We had to file a federal court action in 2003 to get it.
|Last Updated on Friday, 17 June 2011 16:57|