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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Attack on America - Immigration Update
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

According to recent information provided by the Justice Department, 460 people are being held on immigration violations. They represent 39 countries, with most, 177, from Pakistan. Another 117 immigrants have been charged with criminal offenses, all of which are unrelated to the terrorist attacks.

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An immigration judge recently ordered the founder of an Islamic charity accused of providing funds to terrorist organizations detained without the possibility of release. Rabih Haddad was arrested last month after the offices of the charity, Global Relief Foundation, were raided. Haddad overstayed a tourist visa, but according to his attorney, he has a pending application for permanent residency.

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Despite continuing government assurances that those detained after the September 11th attacks are allowed legal representation, advocates say there are reasons to believe that many are not represented. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, there are about 70 lawyers representing September 11th detainees, but there are still more than 500 in custody. Even those who are represented by attorneys may not be fully benefiting, because they are being moved from one detention facility to another with very little or no warning, and in some cases are allowed only one phone call a week.

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A Saudi man arrested on September 11th was recently sentenced to four months in prison and ordered deported for making fraudulent statements on a visa application. A cab driver, Khalid al-Draibi was arrested near Washington Dulles International Airport, from which one of the hijacked planes had taken off. He was cleared of any terrorist involvement.

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The San Antonio doctor who was detained for nearly two weeks following the September 11th attacks was detained a second time while returning to the US from a trip home to Saudi Arabia. Al-Badr Al-Hazmi and his family went to Saudi Arabia for the month of Ramadan. When he tried to reenter the US at Kennedy International Airport, he was told that his visa had been cancelled. He had to return to Saudi Arabia where he was able to obtain a new visa without difficulty.

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The government has asked for a delay in the trial of three Michigan men believed to be involved in terrorism. During a bond hearing, the US Attorney told the judge that there have been delays in obtaining subpoenas and information from abroad, and that there was still not enough evidence to present to a grand jury. Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan and Youssef Hmimssa are currently charged with document fraud. Their trial on these charges will be delayed to give the government an opportunity to collect more evidence. Bond was denied to all three men.

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A number of citizens of Saudi Arabia who have been released from detention claim to have been mistreated and psychologically abused by prison officials. Of the 173 Saudis who have been arrested since the September attacks, only 54 remain in custody, according to a spokesperson for the Saudi ambassador to the US.

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A California man was sentenced this week to six years in prison for assaulting and threatening to kill a gas station attendant of Middle Eastern descent. On November 18th, the man asked the attendant where he was from, and after being told Jordan, tried to stab him with a screwdriver. It is the first such conviction related to the post-September 11th attacks on Americans from the Middle East.

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Following the announcement that the US would hold Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisons at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, two members of Congress have begun calling for the release of Cubans detained at the facility. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans, say that the nearly 30 Cubans at Guantanamo, who have been classified as refugees and are waiting transfer to a third country, should not be kept with suspected terrorists.

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This week the Department of Justice Inspector General, who is charged with investigating reports of misconduct by Department employees, announced that he would create a special division to investigate complaints made by those investigated since September 11th. According to the Inspector General, Glenn Fine, the anti-terrorism law passed last year allows the creation of such a division. In addition to reviewing individual complaints, the section will also likely conduct agency-wide reviews to determine whether there are any systemic problems that lead to rights violations.

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More than a month after the Department of Justice announced that it would offer special visas to immigrants who could provide information about terrorism, the INS has announced than no one has yet qualified for one. The agency pointed out that before a visa can be issued, a prosecutor and the FBI must evaluate the evidence offered, but declined to say whether this was happening in any cases. Many advocates are not surprised that no visas have been granted, and maintain that the effort was never anything more than an attempt to generate good publicity.

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The Maryland State Police this week released a videotape of a police officer pulling over one of the suspected September 11th hijackers two days before the attacks. Ziad Jarrah was stopped for speeding and issued a ticket. Officers say that even if a background check had been conducted, it would not have raised any suspicions, as Jarrah was lawfully in the country.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defenderís office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com


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