For the family of Rabih Haddad, it may seem that equality has passed over them on a day which is supposed to represent freedom.
In a new twist in the case concerning Haddad, a Muslim community leader jailed on an expired visa violation, Haddad”s wife and her four children were served removal papers Sunday. At a time which has yet to be disclosed, there will be a hearing where a judge will determine if Haddad”s family will be deported from the United States. Haddad is currently being held in Chicago.
Even before Dec. 14, when Haddad was arrested, his family had already applied for an adjustment of status under the LIFE Act, which allows aliens to apply for permanent citizenship even if their visa has expired. Hassan said he feels that Haddad and his family are being treated unjustly.
“There is no instance of anybody who applied under this law and was prosecuted,” said Nazih Hassan, a close friend of Haddad”s and vice president of the Muslim Community Association in Ann Arbor.
The Muslim community is upset by this weekend”s events. Haaris Ahmed, executive director of the Michigan Council of American-Islamic Relations, said that if what the Haddads are going through is normal procedure, it is fine. But if the Haddads are being singled out, it is a violation of due process.
“If they are being singled out because they are Muslim-Americans, it is unethical,” Ahmed said.
As part of the University”s Martin Luther King Jr. symposium yesterday, Jeffrey Collins, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, spoke about balancing civil liberties and national security in a post-Sept. 11 world. When asked specifically about the Haddad case, Collins assured the audience that Haddad was being taken good care of and he hoped that he could meet with Haddad”s wife, Salma Al-Rushaid, who was in the audience, to help with her current dilemma. He also expressed wishes that the Immigration and Naturalization Service could disclose more information about Haddad”s case.
But Collins also said his top priority is to fight terrorism, and immigration is a chief concern. In regard to the tactics that the Justice Department is using, such as the interviews of Middle Eastern men on temporary visas, he said, “Where would you begin with limited resources? It”s countries where there”s an active terrorism presence. That”s where the investigation begins.”
Haddad was arrested the same day that the offices of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity he co-founded, were raided because of a suspected link with terrorist organizations.