Cambridge, July 16, 2003
Mr. Stephen J. Farquharson, Interim Director
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Room 1700, JFK Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senate Judiciary Committee
Courthouse Plaza, 199 Main St.
Burlington, VT 05401
Director Farquharson and Senator Leahy,
I am writing concerning the imminent deportation proceedings against my friend AMER JUBRAN of Rhode Island. Amer was illegally arrested by the INS (now BICE) on November 4, 2002. This arrest was illegal because the INS/BICE had no charges against him, they just came into his home and (under the pretense of “asking him some questions”) took him into custody. While in INS/BICE custody, Amer was interrogated by FBI agents who claimed they could make hi INS/BICE troubles go away if he collaborated with their interrogation concerning his political activities on behalf of the Palestinian people. When Amer requested his lawyer, he was formally arrested and detained by the INS. This suggests that in this matter, the INS/BICE is acting solely at the bidding of the FBI, first detaining Amer so the FBI could interrogate him, then keeping him in detention as long as possible, denying his lawyer access to him, so that the FBI could keep pressuring him.
As a US citizen, and firm believer in due process, this troubles me enormously. A recent Justice department report, dated June 2, 2003, finds that the FBI is not differentiating between Arabic and Muslim men in INS/BICE detention, and bona fide terrorism suspects. The FBI treats all Muslim and Arabic men in INS detention as though they were suspected terrorists, threatening and intimidating them. The Justice Department report says that many of the INS/BICE detainees were denied counsel for months, and not informed of the charges against them. This is consistent with Amer’s experience. His lawyer was denied access to him (when he called the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, RI, where Amer was being held, the jail director repeatedly hung up on him). Amer and his lawyer Nelson Brill were not informed of any charges against Amer for over two weeks that Amer was held in the RI jail.
Amer’s treatment, like that of many Muslim and Arabic men, is in complete violation of due process. Amer filed a complaint with the INS/BICE regarding his treatment on January 30, 2003, but the INS/BICE has yet to respond to this complaint with an inquiry of any kind. Thus the INS/BICE seem to be very comfortable with widespread denial of due process as long as Muslim or Arabic men are involved. The immense institutional racism that this implies is staggering, reminiscent of the shameful internment of the Japanese during World War II.
Now the INS/BICE are moving forward with deportation proceedings against Amer. They are trying to prove irregularities in his Green Card application. We have recently heard that as a part of this deportation proceeding, the FBI has tried to intimidate Amer’s ex-wife into saying that her marriage to him was fake. The FBI recently went as far as to interrogate Amer’s ex-wife’s sister for hours, just as an example in a much larger pattern of abuse. If the INS/BICE has immigration proceedings against Amer, why is the FBI involved at all? This is not a criminal court, Amer is not charged with any crime that the FBI is interested in. Why are the FBI hounding him and getting the INS/BICE to act as their jailer and court? The answer can only have to do with Amer’s national origin and political activities. Amer is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, he has devoted much of his life to the struggle for the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. When the FBI was interrogating him, they asked him about his poltical activities.
Director Farquharson and Senator Leahy, you are responsible for the laws of this country and their fair and just application. As public servants, you are bound to obey and respect these laws. The laws of this country prohibit prosecution based on political activity under the First Amendment. I expect you to do everything in your power to remedy the current situation. Right now, Amer Jubran’s deportation proceedings must be dropped, and a full inquiry made into his illegal arrest and the pressing of bogus immigration charges as a means of political repression. Moreover, the Justice Department and INS/BICE must be forced to follow due process in dealing with Muslim and Arabic detainees, and not keep holding them at the convenience of the FBI. Please respond to me with the steps you are taking in this urgent matter,
Sincerely, and with growing outrage,
Julia K. Steinberger
Carbon Copied to:
Assistant Secretary of BICE, Michael Garcia
Director of BICE Office of Internal Audit, William Rightor
Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts
Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island
December 7, 2002
Dear Mr. Farquharson:
Many persons and organizations on Cape Cod have been following with concern the INS case concerning Mr. Amer Jubran, a well-known and respected expert on Middle Eastern affairs, who has made public appearances here as well as elsewhere in New England, speaking on political and social issues.
As you know, Mr Jubran, a Jordanian citizen and a legal resident in this country, was taken into custody in November, and later released on bond. He is to appear at a hearing in February.
As I understand it, the question here is a very small and technical one concerning a supposed error on an INS form, which could quite simply be resolved.
There are those who say, however, that Mr. Jubran is really being penalized for his public espousal of the cause of Palestinian people.
I myself would hate to believe that. As I noted in an earlier letter to you, dated November 9, prior to Mr. Jubranís release, I am a U.S. military veteran of Jewish descent, and a long-time supporter of the right of free political expressionóa right which does not appear to have been observed in this case.
I urge you to dispel the doubts and suspicions concerning government actions with regard to Mr. Jubran by dropping all proceedings against him. I would appreciate your reply to my letter.
David E. Lilienthal, Jr.
East Dennis, MA
December 7, 2002
Dear Mr. Farquharson,
I wrote to you on November 10, 2002 to express my serious concerns about the arrest of Mr. Amer Jubran on November 4 by FBI and INS agents. The dramatic early morning raid on Mr. Jubranís home, his imprisonment for what was then a week, without charges, without a prompt bond hearing: how could such things happen to this well-respected young man? The only reasonable explanation was that it had to be his pro-Palestinian activism. The fact that he was one of the leaders of a march through the streets of Boston on the afternoon of November 2 calling for a free Palestine strongly supports that explanation. I asked for his immediate release.
Implicit in the wording of my November 10 letter was my belief that the reason for his arrest was purely political. Now that I have learned the charges presented in the long-delayed bond hearing on December 21 were minor technicalities, I am more than ever convinced that the reason for his arrest and the 17-day detention was solely political.
I am, therefore, writing again today to urge that the injustice done Mr. Jubran be corrected: that any further proceedings in his case that your office may be contemplating or may have set in motion be dropped immediately.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
I am Very truly yours,
Margaret J. Lilienthal East Dennis, MA
November 30, 2002
Dear Mr. Farquharson:
On November 9, I wrote to you protesting the illegal arrest and detention of Mr. Amer Jubran. Mr. Jubran was released from INS custody on November 21 after 17 days in the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, R.I.
I have yet to receive a response from you regarding the flagrant violations involved in the arrest of Mr. Jubran by INS agent David Atkins. Since the reasons for Mr. Jubran's arrest and detention have now been made public, I would now like to know why you felt it was necessary to raid Mr. Jubran's home, shackle him, subject him to FBI interrogation, and put him in indefinite detention in a high security prison-all for an alleged mistake in filling out a date on an INS application form. Surely this matter could have been resolved with a letter to Mr. Jubran.
Please tell me the reasons for the excessive measures taken by your office regarding this respected member of my community.