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  1. #1
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    Palestinian family must wait in jail for case hearing

    April 11, 2007, 12:43PM
    Palestinian family must wait in jail for case hearing


    By ANABELLE GARAY Associated Press Writer
    2007 The Associated Press



    DALLAS Radi Hazahza and his family have been living in limbo for months, wondering how much longer they'll remain imprisoned while the government tries to send them back to a conflict-ridden part of the world.

    The Hazahzas say they've cooperated with the federal government's demands that they leave the country after being denied asylum. The problem is, no country is willing to take the Palestinian family, not Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority or dozens of other governments they've asked.

    The government contends the Hazahzas are a flight risk and unlikely to comply with deportation orders.

    So while their case remains uncertain, 56-year-old Radi Hazahza and his four adult children Mirvat, 24; Hisham, 23; Suzi, 19; and Ahmad, 18 wait in a West Texas detention center where they say they've been mistreated.

    "Our hope is the government will use this time to realize there is no reason to hold this family," said attorney Joshua Bardavid, who along with numerous activists have been urging officials to free the family while their case is settled.

    Advocates estimate the Hazahzas are among hundreds of immigrants in limbo, although federal officials said statistics on such cases weren't immediately available.

    The immigration problems for the Hazahza family began after they arrived in Dallas in 2001 using visas. They applied for asylum, citing their fear of persecution because of Radi Hazahza's political opinions. He was labeled as an Israeli collaborator after criticizing Palestinan militants for using civilians as human shields, family members said.

    Their asylum petition was rejected in 2002 and an immigration judge ordered them returned to either Jordan or the Palestinian territories. The Hazahzas' appeal of that decision was dismissed in 2004, but in the meantime their travel documents issued by Jordan expired.

    Their lawyer said from that point to the day they were detained, the family was at the suburban Dallas address, living normal lives.

    "They're an asset to society," Bardavid said.

    Radi Hazahza worked as an auto inspector. Hisham managed a cell phone outlet and planned to purchase his own store. Mirvat married and was an honors student at North Lake College while holding a job as the office manager of an insurance company.

    Suzi also was a college student who worked as a receptionist and was planning her wedding. Ahmad and Mohammed attended school, said Reza Barkhordari, a U.S. citizen who is engaged to Suzi Hazahza.

    Their lives changed in November, when armed ICE agents raided the family's home in the middle of the night and detained them.

    Radi Hazahza's wife, Nazmeih Juma, and their 11-year-old son Mohammed were taken to a Central Texas detention center and released about three months later. The others were taken to the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Haskell, where they remain.

    "They're extremely exhausted, not knowing what the future holds," Barkhordari said. "It's been emotionally very draining and very difficult."

    The Hazahzas say they've endured cavity searches and been denied prompt medical care. Guards have mocked them when they prayed and few foods conform to their Muslim diet. They've complained that Ahmad was in solitary confinement for three months at the adult facility until he turned 18. Mirvat and Suzi allege they were held in the drunk tank for about two days because other space wasn't available.

    "Just because they're immigrants doesn't take their rights as human beings," Barkhordari said. "What's happening to myself and this family, I don't wish on my worst enemy."

    ICE officials deny the allegations, saying medical care is provided and religiously appropriate meals are available if detainees ask. Although strip searches are done after contact visits, body cavity searches haven't been conducted in years at Rolling Plains, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok.

    "They are being treated fairly and humanely," Rusnok said.

    Supporters say the family has no business being locked up and have been keeping vigil at the Federal Courthouse in Dallas to show their support for the Hazahzas' release.

    "These people are asylum seekers, they literally fled those territories to save their lives," Barkhordari said.

    Still, it looks like they'll remain locked up for at least another month.

    A federal magistrate wrote last week that he was "troubled and deeply concerned" about the government's assertions. But the anti-terrorism REAL ID Act of 2005 prevents him from reviewing the government's decisions.

    The magistrate recommended the Hazahzas remain in custody at least until May 2, when the family reaches its sixth month in detention. That's when a federal court could intervene since the Supreme Court has said detaining people ordered deported beyond six months is unlawful.



    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/4705870.html

  2. #2
    MW
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    Please pass the box of kleenex. I definitely need a tissue because this family has a serious issue.

    Geez, give me a break.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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