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Arab immigrants targeted
The Feds' secret deportations

By Lee Wengraf | August 22, 2003 | Page 2

THE U.S. government was planning a mass deportation of as many as 100 Middle Eastern men and women as Socialist Worker went to press. In the latest escalation of its witch-hunt of Arabs and Muslims, the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) planned to put a group of Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians on a chartered flight August 18 to Cairo, Egypt, and Amman, Jordan.

Many of those slated for deportation were rounded up in post-September 11 investigations. Of the more than 1,000 September 11 detainees--most of them young men of Arab descent--not one was charged with anything connected to terrorism. But hundreds were held on minor immigration violations and deported.

Among the latest group that the Feds plan to kick out is 51 year-old Muhammed Abu-Shaker. He is a Palestinian who has lived for three years in New Jersey, where he and his girlfriend have a 19-month-old child, who is a U.S. citizen.

Abu-Shaker was detained once before by immigration authorities for 10 months, but was released after a public outcry over his case. He was preparing to apply for refugee status in Canada when he was picked up again by immigration agents.

The apparent plan is to fly Abu Shaker to Egypt, and then transport him to the occupied territory of Gaza. "If he is deported to Palestine, his girlfriend and child will be unable to join him," says the Committee on Human Rights of Immigrants. "His family will be destroyed, and he will be forced to make his way without contacts and without family in the midst of a war zone."

Another Palestinian apparently slated to be deported is 54-year-old Munir Lami. Lami has lived in the U.S. for 16 years and has nine children in this country. He has diabetes and lost his vision while in jail because of inadequate treatment. His family has no idea who will take care of him if he is sent to Jordan, and then transported to the West Bank.

Immigrant rights activists fear that the U.S. will try to deport other stateless Palestinians--including New York-area activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti, who has been detained by immigration authorities since April 2002. The new Homeland Security Department carried out a secret deportation flight of Palestinians on May 14, but didn't confirm this until a Reuters story broke the news at the end of July. At least 25 people were kept handcuffed during the long flight.

The Stop the Disappearances Campaign believes that the U.S. government may have worked out secret agreements with governments in Jordan, Israel and Egypt--and is putting heavy pressure on Palestine Authority officials to issue travel documents that would land detainees in the Occupied Territories, under the gun of the Israeli state.

These outrageous deportations expose Washington's hypocrisy in claiming to stand for democracy and freedom. We have to mobilize to speak out against these deportations!

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