WFAA Report by Brett Shipp: Outspoken contributor snubbed by Obama (Aug. 9, 2010)
White House keeps deported student’s immigration adviser from questioning Obama in Dallas
Written by Johnathan Silver
The Shorthorn copy desk chief
Reposted by permission of author
MONDAY, 09 AUGUST 2010 05:21 PM
The White House has uninvited Saad Nabeel’s immigration adviser to a Dallas function.
Nabeel, a former UTA student, was deported to Bangladesh while attending the university in 2009. His friends have since rallied to get him home.
Ralph Isenberg, Nabeel’s adviser, said he received a call from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Sunday. During the call, he learned the White House had uninvited him from President Barack Obama’s Dallas fundraiser.
Isenberg paid $10,000 for access and even compiled news releases and reports written about Nabeel, in hopes of giving them to President Obama. One perk that came with the payment included a photo op and one to three minutes with the president. That’s when Isenberg planned to discuss Nabeel’s case.
Isenberg said his plan couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time for the administration.
The New York Times reported today that the Obama administration doesn’t deport illegal immigrants who are students and have their roots planted in this country.
“In a world of limited resources, our time is better spent on someone who is here unlawfully and is committing crimes in the neighborhood,” John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said, according to the Times. “As opposed to someone who came to this country as a juvenile and spent the vast majority of their life here.”
That sounds a lot like Nabeel, Isenberg said.
He claims the White House didn’t want the news Obama would likely tout in Texas to conflict with cases like Nabeel’s, which contradict what the administration is promoting.
“Out comes the good news of students not being deported, except there’s one problem,” Isenberg said. “There’s a student in Bangladesh.”
The White House media affairs office referred questions to the Democratic National Committee. The committee did not comment.
Nabeel said the White House is censoring him and his cause. He said the White House snub is upsetting and shows hypocrisy. When he first learned of the meeting, he was uncertain of the impact it would entail, and didn’t put too much stock in it.
“After you’ve been through what I have, you know all too well that things will always, in some ways, go wrong,” Nabeel said. “I know how to prepare for disappointment, so when it hits, I stay strong.”
The White House’s tactics will backfire though, he said.
“I’m not going to quit until Saad’s foot is on this soil,” Isenberg said. “And there are hundreds of people who feel that way.”
One could add hundreds of thousands more on top of that, if considering the million plus people who read a German magazine last week featuring Nabeel on the cover.
“All of Europe knows about this now,” Isenberg said.
And now, it’s the White House’s move, he said.
“They can choose to ignore the case of Saad or they can do something about it,” Isenberg said. “I hope they choose to do something.“
Nabeel, a former electrical engineering student, lived in the country since age 3 and was deported after his 18th birthday in 2009. His family was in the process of receiving green cards, which have since been made available, but now are out of reach – a continent’s reach. Nabeel and his family have been banned from the U.S. for 10 years.
As Nabeel waits for good news, he deals with frequent power outages and self-isolation.
“The kid only knows one pledge of allegiance and that pledge is to the United States of America,” Isenberg said. “What the hell is he doing in Bangladesh? The European community will ask that question.”
Calcutta Telegraph (Aug. 9, 2010)
16 years in US and a jolt
Dhaka, Aug. 8: Saad Nabeel, a 19-year-old brought up in the US for the past 16 years, is now holed up in a flat in Dhaka, trying to make sense of an alien “home” and a blur of events that put him on a flight to Bangladesh despite being chosen for a green card.
The right and wrong involved in Saad’s case are too complex to be separated easily.
The Bangladeshi boy, who had lived in the US since the age of three, was deported to Dhaka as an illegal immigrant on January 4. Two months earlier, he was told that his family’s application for green cards had been approved.
Saad cannot go back because before his deportation, he was made to sign what the teen said was a document that made him acknowledge the fact that he could not return to America for 10 years.
“If I refused to sign, (US immigration officials said) I would be criminally charged and kept in prison,” the engineering student of the University of Texas told The Telegraph in his heavy American accent in his first comments to the mainstream media since his deportation.
For the past seven months, Saad, whose parents too have been deported, has hardly stepped out of his Dhaka flat provided by his mother’s relatives, suffering “bouts of depression” in a country whose culture and language are Greek to him.
He still calls America “home”, and says a “special someone” is waiting for him there, though he has begun to believe that “a long-distance relationship is tough to work out”.
“I came to Dhaka with just a bag of clothes…. I hardly ever go out; I have nowhere to go to. I listen to music and chat with friends (in America) online, which I can’t do too often because of frequent power outages,” he said.
How did the mix-up take place, with one arm of the US government chucking him out while the other was shaping into an embrace?
“The problem in the US is that immigration officials here make their own rules depending on which side of the bed they have got up in the mornings,” said Ralph Isenberg, an immigration activist based in Dallas, Saad’s home state, who is trying to help the teenager.
“Each state has a different rule. It was unfortunate for Saad that he lived in Dallas. If he were in Illinois, he and his family would have still been in the US. The Dallas immigration office is the worst — they take pleasure in causing foreign nationals pain.”
There could be an irony here. After Saad’s father Mohammad Tarique, who had fled to America in 1994 with his wife and then three-year-old son fearing political persecution, was denied asylum in 2002, he had shifted home to avoid being deported, moving to the Dallas suburb of Frisco from Los Angeles, California.
Saad would not even reveal his Dhaka address to this newspaper, saying the threat of persecution was “still real”.
“At one time my father was involved in politics. Since his party isn’t in power, the threat is still there.”
Tarique, who was the CEO of a German garment company in Bangladesh before fleeing to the US, had sought political asylum citing a threat to his life from the then government in Dhaka.
After eight years of filing appeals, the family was finally told there would be no asylum. But Saad’s young age, 11, perhaps saved the family from immediate deportation or imprisonment.
Under US law, the boy had the right to remain in the country till he turned 18, and the government had the discretion of allowing his parents to stay on to look after him. Tarique applied for green cards, which would grant the family the status of permanent residents, and moved to Dallas.
“We were told by family and friends to keep off the (government’s) radar,” Saad said.
The boy enjoyed a normal life like any American his age, receiving his high school diploma and a full scholarship from the University of Texas, Arlington, to study electrical engineering. He lived on campus and made friends.
“In 2008, my father was taken away by immigration officials and kept in jail for 42 days and released with an ankle monitor (which sends signals about a person’s location and movements).”
Saad turned 18 on January 21, 2009. He could have been deported any day after that but seems to have been overlooked, perhaps because of the immigration backlog in the US.
In November, good news came from the immigration authorities: the green cards had been approved. “(We were told the green cards) would reach us by January 2010… we would be fine,” Saad said.
Then Tarique made what appears in hindsight to have been a mistake. He drew attention to the family by asking the authorities for an extension of the permission to live in the US and informing them the green cards were due in January. But the 2002 deportation order was still alive.
“He was arrested and a notice was issued to deport us. They said we had already taken too many extensions (three),” Saad said.
Now these green cards can be issued only when the family gets the 10-year ban waived.
Saad has one hope — an error that he says the US officials made while deporting him. “I am trying to get the 10 year bar removed as, under the law, it was never supposed to be applied to me,” he said.