Press Release

Deportation of Elderly Pakistani Special Registrant Halted

New York, NY—With less than 30 days remaining until his scheduled deportation date, Mr. Malik Muhammad Akbar‘s request for deferred action was granted by the Department of Homeland Security on May 27, 2004. Mr. Akbar, age 66, and suffering from a multitude of physical illnesses, was placed in deportation proceedings last January after complying with the Department of Justices discriminatory Special Registration Program. The program was intended to monitor nationals from Muslim countries deemed to be a threat to national security. Instead, it ensnared elderly sick men to be questioned, fingerprinted, photographed and to face deportation.

Not willing to accept deportation, Mr. Akbar and the Special Registrants Action Network—a coalition of Special Registrants and supporters—mobilized diverse communities on behalf of his plea for deferred action. Mr. Akbar has received over 200 letters of support from individuals, community groups, businesses and organizations around the country as well as from his Bronx district congressman, Rep. Joseph Crowley. Special Registrants Action Network also enlisted the help of civil liberties groups to flood government offices with calls, expressing support for the elderly man. The end outcome was a resounding message to the Department of Homeland Security: the chorus of support for Mr. Akbar will only grow if they denied his request for deferred action.

A husband and the father of five children with pending adjustment applications, Mr. Akbar said in response to the decision, “In my current medical state I dont know how long I would have survived in Pakistan. This decision has given me a chance at life. I am very grateful that I am able to stay in this country with my family. However, I feel very strongly that government must find a way to help all Special Registrants, including those who have already been deported. The program is a great injustice.” The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund represented Akbar in deportation proceedings.

Special Registrants Action Network organizer Tariqul Islam stated, “This is a tremendous, hard fought victory for the Akbar family. Mr. Akbar is a true leader and is part of a growing community of immigrants who are fighting back against the Bush Administrations racist domestic war on immigrants. Special Registration has outraged citizens and noncitizen alike. We must continue to fight for the countless others facing this injustice.”

In May the Network submitted a report to the 9/11 Commission, responsible for investigating the governments response to the September 11th attacks, calling for “the termination of deportation proceedings against those who complied with Special Registration; the return of those who have already been exiled; and a full stop to discriminatory immigration enforcement.”

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund released a major report “Special Registration: Discrimination and Xenophobia as Government Policy,” providing an overview of the ineffectiveness and far-reaching implications of the post 9.11 policy. To get a copy contact AALDEF.