New York, NY—Mohammad Belayet Hossain, a hard-working Brooklyn resident and father of a 10 year-old daughter, believed that February 19th would be his last day in the U.S. Instead, by asserting his right to remain in the United States, Mr. Hossain was granted an emergency stay from deportation by a New York immigration judge last week.
Mr. Hossain, originally from Bangladesh and South Africa, had applied for a labor certification in April 2001 but was still awaiting a decision from the Department of Labor when he reported for special registration on April 17, 2003. At the federal immigration office in New York City, Mr. Hossain was fingerprinted, photographed, and received harsh and religiously insensitive treatment from immigration agents. But because of acute administrative backlogs and post-9/11 anti-immigrant policies and practices by the authorities, Mr. Hossain was placed in removal proceedings.
His labor certification was approved by the Department of Labor on January 28, 2004 months after his deportation case ended. On February 12, an immigration judge granted an emergency stay of removal for Mr. Hossain with days left before his scheduled departure to Bangladesh. Mr. Hossain was very worried about the outcome of the case because in these types of cases, immigration judges often have complete discretion. Mr. Hossain contacted New Immigrant Community Empowerment, and received pro bono legal representation from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund to defend his right to stay.
At a press conference on February 18, NICE and AALDEF together marked the last-minute reprieve as “a small but significant victory for all of us,” according to NICE community organizer Partha Banerjee.
Said Mr. Hossain through an interpreter, “I am happy that I have the temporary opportunity to live in this country. I am particularly happy that my daughter, who grew up in this country, can be present for her elementary school graduation.”
The immigrant rights advocates noted that Mr. Hossain had at each step tried to comply with the law, as had every individual who appeared for special registration. Sam Quiah, AALDEF community organizer, added, “The special registration program has also targeted people who have a valid path to legalization. Men such as Mr. Hossain, had a pending application and were put into removal proceedings. The government should be held accountable for this discriminatory program that has torn apart many families.”
Added Mr. Banerjee, “This racial profiling by our government has created a climate of fear, which intimidates our communities. Anyone who has been unjustly affected by federal immigration policies should not be afraid to assert their rights.”
Anyone with questions about detentions, racial profiling, special registration or other forms of September 11th discrimination should contact AALDEF at (212) 966-5932.