On May 19, 2003, Pakistani immigrant Mohammed Junaid went to the headquarters of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service at 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan to comply with the Special Registrations program enacted by the Department of Justice in November 2002.
He never returned home.
Junaid is being detained at Sussex County Jail in New Jersey after being moved from 26 Federal Plaza to Buffalo Federal Detention Center and then on to Elizabeth Detention Center. He had lived in the United States for 10 years and was arrested for an outstanding order of deportation that neither he nor his family knew about.
“We were caught in a trap. We did everything we could to make sure that Mohammed was safe to go to the special registration. He wanted to comply so that he could adjust his status and his family could live here safely, but instead they arrested him,” said Junaid’s wife, Nishap, a native of Bangladesh.
In fact, Junaid went to register after consulting with an attorney and with an application of sponsorship by his employer.
Junaid’s family is now bearing the brunt of increasingly harsh immigration policies and is the latest of thousands of families ripped apart by the program. Special Registrations requires non-citizen men over the age of 16 from many Arab and Muslim countries to register with the government, be fingerprinted and photographed.
Between December 2002 and March 2003 thousands of men were targeted from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
In Southern California, hundreds of Iranian-Americans alone were arrested during special registration in December.
Often, the men were detained or issued notices to reappear in immigration court. Many are currently awaiting their court dates.
While Junaid languishes in jail, his pregnant wife, daughter and father-in-law face total loss of income, impending eviction and the threat of losing their loved one to deportation.
Mrs. Junaid is 8-months pregnant and must take care of her 2-year-old daughter and ailing father. She is experiencing complications in her pregnancy and has been told that her baby will need surgery after birth.
As with most immigrant families, Mrs. Junaid’s family has no health insurance.
Mrs. Junaid and her father are leading a campaign sponsored by the community organization DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) to release her husband on humanitarian parole. Junaid was recently denied parole by the INS Detention and Removal Office at Elizabeth Detention Center despite his urgent family circumstances.
The family is now waiting for a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals.
For more information contact:
Monami Maulik, Desis Rising Up & Moving. (718) 205-3036, firstname.lastname@example.org