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Homeland Security Not Deterred By Fears Of Deportee Death

by John Wheat Gibson

Editor's note: Congressman Louie Gomert recently introduced two private bills on behalf of Rrustem Neza, see here and here.

The Albanian who publicly announced the names of the assassins who killed Albanian Democratic Party leader Azem Hajdari will be deported to Albania, said Carl Rusnok, public relations officer for the Dallas district of the Department of Homeland Security.

The assassins will be waiting for him with sharpened knives, because on 5 September 2007 the Albanian newspaper Korrieri in Tirana, the capital, on its front page announced that Rrustem Neza, whom the headline called a "Witness of Murder of Azem Hajdari," had been denied asylum in the US and was about to be returned to Albania. Additionally, reports were broadcast by Albanian television stations.

Rrustem Neza fled to the United States, but was prevented by his previous attorney from presenting the facts of his case when he appeared before an immigration judge to ask for asylum. As a result, the immigration judge denied his asylum application and he now is in immigration custody under a final order of deportation. His two brothers Xhemal and Ismet, who subsequently presented their cases to an immigration judge, both were granted asylum.

BICE deportation officer Kevin Czechowicz took Rrustem Neza to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to deport him to Albania, but he pleaded for his life so loudly that airline officials would not let him board the plane. Czechowicz said that he will take Mr. Neza to the airport again, and will deport him. At present, Mr. Neza is detained by the DHS at the contract prison in Haskell, Texas.

To date, Mr. Neza never has been allowed to present the facts of his case to an immigration judge. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied his motion to reopen on account of his previous attorney's ineffectiveness. The BIA did not doubt that Mr. Neza will be killed for his political affiliation when he is deported to Albania. Instead, the BIA said it would not reopen his case because more than 180 days had passed since its first decision.

A petition for review is pending in the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, but DHS could deport Mr. Neza before the 11th Circuit makes a decision. Another problem is that in the 11th Circuit Mr. Neza must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he would win his asylum case if it is reopened. But the Court of Appeals cannot receive any evidence except what the previous attorney submitted to the immigration judge. Yet, it was the previous attorney's failure to submit the abundant evidence that the Court of Appeals now will not look at which prevented Mr. Neza from receiving a fair hearing and being granted asylum in the first place!

Desperately trying to save his brother's life, Xhemal Neza has been talking to everyone who will listen about the danger to Rrustem. It was Rrustem's brother Xhemal who told him the names of the killers, after Xhemal personally witnessed the machine-gunning of Hajdari and his bodyguards. At least one of the assassins was a police officer. Rrustem told the names of the killers to a crowd at a meeting in the Albanian city of Tropoje while Xhemal was unconscious in a hospital in the capital city Tirana, after Xhemal was injured by police fire during a demonstration protesting the assassination.

The assassins were associated with both the ruling Socialist Party and Hajdari's rival for Democratic Party leadership Sali Berisha. Xhemal and Rrustem hid from the police with two of their cousins, both of whom were murdered before they could flee from Albania.

At the hearing on Rrustem's asylum application in Miami, the immigration judge doubted that the cousins had been murdered. The official death certificates of both cousins and a newspaper account of the murder of one of them were available to prove the truth, but Rrustem's attorney was unaware of them and did not show them to the immigration judge.

All pleadings, affidavits, and other evidence are available for inspection and copying at the office of Rrustem's present attorney John Wheat Gibson. They include a detailed, sworn, account of the murder of Hajdari, and the course of Rrustem's asylum application in the immigration court.

For the complaint, see here.

For the answer to the complaint, see here.

For the latest government pleadings to the BIA, see here.

For the petitioners’ reply to DHS opposition, see here.

For the government opposition to our motion to stay deportions, see here.

For the reply to respondent's opposition to petitioners' amended motion for stay and motion for remand, and petitioner's motion to abate briefing, see here.

The Department of Homeland Security on 1 October 2007 filed a suit in the US district court in Abilene asking the judge to authorize them to drug Mr. Neza before putting him on an airplane for Albania.

Meanwhile, two more newspapers in Tirana, the capital of Albania, have run front page headlines with Rrustem Neza's name in them, and articles explaining that he is about to be deported from the US after he was denied asylum, even though he identified the assassins of Democratic Party leader Azem Hajdari. Thus, Mr. Neza will get off the airplane in Albania too drugged to run from the killers who, having read the newspapers, will be waiting for him.

Furthermore, the Albanian government last month reopened the investigation of the Hajdari killing, because it is seeking membership in NATO, and wants to prove its legitimacy to the European Union, whose approval it will have to obtain. For the same reason, the Albanian government does not want the embarassment of Mr. Neza's murder at this time, and allegedly has asked DHS to delay his deportation.

About The Author

John Wheat Gibson practices immigration law in Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at (214)748-6944. Xhemal Neza may be reached at (936)676-8460.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.