Friday, June 24, 2011

Immigration Victory, Deportation Case Finally Dropped (Epoch Times)

Immigration Victory, Deportation Case Finally Dropped
Bangladeshi native struggled for years for residency
By Zack Stieber
Epoch Times Staff

June 23, 2011

NEW YORK—Some say the American Dream is dead, a product of the past. To one young man from Bangladesh, it is alive and well and invokes hope for the future; enough to spend over eight years of his life battling for his right to his own American Dream.

Mohammed Azam watched a college friend get deported back to Bangladesh after being discovered as an illegal immigrant. Azam feared he would be next.

“Every day when I got out from my house, I was always nervous that I would be in the same position as my friend,” said Mohammed Azam.

After years of legal proceedings in relation to his immigration status, with yearlong lulls in the process, finally a decision has been reached. Due to pressure brought against the government by a letter signed by 20 politicians, as well as media coverage of Azam’s case, the deportation case brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been dropped.

Described by elected officials as a “model citizen,” 26-year-old Azam has resided in the United States since he was nine-years-old, has worked at a Häagen Dazs ice cream store for years, is a college graduate, and has no criminal background.

The controversial proceedings seem to have begun in 2003 when he voluntarily registered with the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which was created after 9/11 to keep track of male foreign nationals older then 16 years of age from regions like Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, with nonpermanent resident status in the United States.

In 2001, Azam’s father applied for federal labor certification, and under a federal program, would be granted a green card as well. The certification ended up taking so long that Azam went from being a young man in high school to an adult.

The ICE tried to deport him on the basis of his father not receiving the certification until Azam was an adult; saying the newly gained status did not apply to him. Since then, the case has been in continual limbo, with years of waiting for a verdict.

In 2007, a judge terminated the case because of violations committed by the ICE. ICE appealed, and a recent March verdict stated that Azam should receive a green card. This decision was based on the Child Status Protection Act, which states that if the government delays a decision, and if a child becomes an adult in the meantime, the delay cannot be held against the person.

ICE filed a notice of appeal, but recently dropped it. ICE did not return a request for comment on the case.

“Our current immigration system wants to deport people like Mohammed to countries that they may not even remember anymore, or to condemn them to a hopeless future where they live and work in the shadows,” said Roopal Patel, a student at NYU School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic, who provided representation for Azam. She faced similar situations with some of her relatives, she said.

“The U.S. government failed him miserably,” said Borough President Scott Stringer,

“To me, he is what the American Dream should be, but unfortunately, it isn't for millions,” added Stringer, who held a celebratory press conference for Azam at his downtown office on Thursday.

Stringer said there are 170 languages spoken in New York City and 200 countries are represented. His office has an Immigrant Rights Task Force, which strives to educate the public on these matters. They also want to do a better job reaching out to the immigrant community about all the available services they may be able to utilize.

Azam expressed his heartfelt thanks to Stringer at the press conference. His future plans include going back to school to pursue an MBA and opening a franchise business.

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