Letter from immigrant describes detention and problems with INS

[Editor’s note: The following letter is written by a Muslim who immigrated to America from India in 1990, seeking political asylum from India’s violent strife between Hindus and Muslims. We have withheld his name at his request. He wrote this letter while detained in Atlanta with Mohammed Lone. Though now released from jail and living at home with his wife and their infant child, the writer says immigration officials have notified him he will be deported to India in the first week of March 2002.]

12/29/01

Hi. I am writing this letter from ACDC (Atlanta City Detention Center). The sole purpose of this letter is to provide the media with some information on how ineffective and discriminatory INS has been in doing its “job.”

Let me begin by telling you why and how I was brought here. I have been in the U.S. for over 10 years and call this wonderful country, Home. during my stay here I have been a tax-paying resident and have committed no crime or felony. Back in June 1999, I missed an interview with INS because I moved and never received the appointment letter, which was mailed by regular mail. The court ruled to deport me in my absence.

I have married a U.S. citizen since then and have a beautiful daughter. My wife wanted to legalize me and filed the necessary papers. On Dec. 12, INS invited me to collect the work authorization and arrested me instead. Now, with absolutely no proof, they are charging me that I married only to get my Green Card and I should be deported instead since they have a deportation order from before I got married.

I love my wife to death and we had been living together every single day until they arrested me. This is our first and last marriage and we do not marry for material things like money or Green Card, etc.

Deporting me back to India will bar me coming back to U.S. for 10 years. I think I have humanitarian rights to live with my wife and children.

Since 9/11, INS has changed the rules, well actually stopped following the rules. The rules are made as they go and their target is to get as many Muslims out of the U.S. as they can, which they think will prevent terrorism.

Yes, I do think that I have been targeted because I have a Muslim name and follow Islam. Please do not confuse Islam for terrorism. There are over a billion Muslims in the world that follow Islam and 7 million here in the U.S. We Muslims have the same sad and angry feelings about the 9/11 tragedy. It is even sad to know that the terrorist used Islam to justify their cause and it has left Americans with mixed feelings about the Muslim religion.

To make matters worse, it seems like INS has been instructed to target Muslim immigrants. Since 9/11 [the] flow of Muslim immigrants into detention centers and deportation proceedings has skyrocketed. However, all of this goes under radar because INS supposedly does not sort its records by religion.

I have witnessed several cases here that have targeted Muslims by their religion. One story is of this Jewish Israeli guy, which happens to be the only immigrant I have seen been deported to Israel. He says, he was driving with his friend and was pulled over. He and his friend were both illegal immigrants. The police contacted INS to learn about their legal status. He had a name that resembled a Muslim name and he definitely looked Muslim. He was brought to detention center and then deported and his Jewish friend was let go the same day.

The other story is of this Muslim guy who was in the process of getting his work visa. He was pulled over in his car and had $5,000 in cash. I don’t think he knew that being a Muslim and carrying some cash will get him deported to Pakistan.

This detention center is full of Muslims and Mexicans. Of course, with Mexicans they will be back in a few months. Somehow.

The Economics Doesn’t Make Sense Either

INS spends $100/day per person per day to keep them in detention center (DC). Even the illegal immigrants who have volunteered to be deported are held for 2-3 months. That is an average 6-9 thousand dollars per Immigrant!!!

And some cases just don’t move. Remember the ship of illegal immigrants that was caught in Savannah, GA about 28 months ago? There are still immigrants from the boat waiting for political asylum and one of them is here with us.

At $100/day, INS has spent over $84,000 just to keep him here for 28 months. What’s the result? The poor guy hasn’t seen his family in 28 months. He could have been out working 15-18 hours a day. The government hasn’t gained anything either. What a waste of $84,000 on one immigrant!!!

I think it is time for the media to put some light on a lot of these things done by INS in the dark. It is also time for media to educate Americans about Islam so they can make a clear distinction between Islam and terrorism. I am willing to help any way I can.

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