My client, Abdirahman Ali Gaal, has been released from immigration custody and has been reunited with his family in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Gaal is a citizen of Somalia, and is a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
This past spring Mr. Gaal spent approximately two months abroad on vacation. When attempting to return home Mr. Gaal's May 30, 2010 Aeromexico flight that was en route to Mexico was diverted to Montreal, Canada by United States officials because of his placement on a "no-fly" list. Once in Canada, Mr. Gaal was returned to the United States by Canadian authorities, and was taken into custody by U.S. immigration officials who instituted removal proceedings against him.
My client has been charged with abandoning his Green Card because he went to Canada in 2008 for ten months to console his grieving spouse whose mother had a stroke that ultimately took her life. The Government has also alleged that Mr. Gaal is inadmissible to the United States for having committed a crime in Canada that he has never been charged with, and that he is not guilty of.
The alleged criminal violation relates to him using a name on a Canadian convention refugee application that was not currently his legal name. The name Mr. Gaal put on his application is a name that he has legally used in the past, and is a family name culturally. Parenthetically, Mr. Gaal withdrew his application prior to ever being scheduled for an interview with Canadian immigration authorities.
Mr. Gaal returned to the United States in 2008 after he burried his mother-in-law, resuming his lawful status as a Green Card holder. At that time he was inspected and admitted to the United States by U.S. immigration officials after having disclosed the length of time he was in Canada, and that he had applied for status in Canada that was ultimately withdrawn. Mr. Gaal then remained in the U.S. until this last trip abroad in 2010.
When Mr. Gaal was last in Canada after having his flight diverted, the Canadian authorities did not elect to charge Mr. Gaal with a crime, presumably because he hasn't committed one. Mr. Gaal is not currently facing any criminal charges in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security instead elected to institute immigration proceedings against him rather than hold him under suspicion.
Immigration Court proceedings are currently scheduled this Thursday in Batavia, New York but it is anticipated that venue will be changed to Seattle, Washington as a result of Mr. Gaal's release from immigration custody.
We intend to vigorously defend the charges against Mr. Gaal as they are entirely frivolous.