By Greg Moses
On Sept. 5, an obscure Texas immigration case became a front-page item for the government-friendly Albanian newspaper Korreiri, raising new fears that if Texas immigration authorities deported an Albanian refugee, he would be in danger for his life.
News of the case entered cyberspace on Sept. 4 when the Texas Civil Rights Review published a plea from Dallas immigration attorney John Wheat Gibson in behalf of his client Rrustem Neza.
Neza had been taken to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport during the previous week for deportatoin, explained Gibson, “but he pleaded for his life so loudly that airline officials would not let him board the plane.” Gibson sought further attention to the case in hopes of preventing another deportation attempt.
According to another Dallas immigration activist, immigration authorities would usually attempt a second deportation in about ten days. If a subject’s actions once again prevented deportation, procedures would usually involve drugging the subject for a third trip.
Gibson’s appeal from Texas on Sept. 4 became front page news in Albania on Sept. 5, resulting in heightened fears among Reza’s family and friends that deportation would be a life-threatening maneuver.
After talking to Gibson on Sept. 7, Dallas immigration activist Ralph Isenberg sent a note to the Dallas immigration office with a copy of the newspaper clip. The note was addressed to the Dallas office lead counsel, Paul Hunker, and was delivered via email and courrier:
Based on information I have been provided (see enclosed) if Rrustem Neza is deported he will in all likelihood be executed shortly after arriving in Albania. While I understand you have no legal authority in this matter you do nevertheless have great influence over what Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) in Dallas does. I am asking that you please for the sake of a human life advice ICE to use the discretion they have and not deport Mr. Neza. New information has come to light regarding his case which belongs in a court of law. As a sidebar, I also understand that the parents of Mr. Neza fled Albania under threat of death once the Dallas deportation story broke on every newspaper and television station in Albania. It is my understanding that this information will be certified by an affidavit no later than Monday, September 10, 2007. Thank you for looking into this matter for me. When an opportunity arises to save a life, we as humans must act in the positive.
Speaking by telephone about Friday’s note, Isenberg explained to the Texas Civil Rights Review that the Dallas office has the right to exercise discretion over Neza’s fate.
”The man is frightened out of his mind,” said Isenberg. “A credible fear is not what the receiving country is perceiving. It’s what the person who’s being deported is perceiving.”
As Gibson’s note of Sept. 4 explains, the fear on Neza’s part originates from information that he claims to have about a political assassination in Albania.
”In a way there’s only a very little about what’s going on in Albania that’s relevant,” explains Isenberg. “All this young man needs to show is grounds for a legitimate and credible fear.”
At last report, Neza was being held at the Rolling Plains prison of Haskell, Texas, where he has been for the past eight months.
Korrieri, Sept. 5, 2007