Local activists demand release of Pakistani man detained at Hobby airport by immigration officials

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HOUSTON — A Pakistani man returning to the U.S. after a trip to Mexico is now being held at the Core Civic Detention Center in Houston and facing threats of deportation, according to members of immigration advocacy group FIEL.

According to FIEL, Mohammad Sarfaraz Hussain was arrested by TSA after he had been given bad legal advice about his student visa status.

"Unfortunately, at Hobby Airport here in Houston, Texas, he was singled out, and he was questioned as to what his motives were, as to what his status were, and basically, they were trying to get to the point where he would incriminate himself," FIEL Executive Director Cesar Espinoza declared. "And therefore, they would have an excuse to detain him."

"This is a shock to us. Nobody in our family has ever gone through such a procedure or has been detained without the will," the detainee's sister and U.S. citizen Shahla Shahnawaz said. "Of course, our request is to release him. This is not the process. There was other ways this could have been taken care of."

The case has attracted the attention of local immigration activists who see it as another abuse of ICE.

"We condemn these actions by ICE," Espinoza said. "We condemn the fact that he was singled out, and there are other options for him to fight his immigration case."

"This madness needs to stop," another activist demanded.

But the government says not so fast!

ICE officials claim Hussain confirmed under oath he never attended school and was illegally working in the U.S., both of which violate his non-immigrant visa.

Local activists say Hussain fears for his safety in his home country, so therefore he should be granted asylum here in the U.S.

But it will be up to a judge and U.S. Immigration authorities to make that judgment now.

[The Customs and Border Protection released a statement that read in part]

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are thoroughly trained on admissibility factors and the Immigration and Nationality Act which broadly governs the admissibility and inadmissibility of travelers into the United States.

All travelers arriving to the United States must possess valid travel documents. For foreign nationals, this includes a current passport and a valid visa for their intended purpose of travel.

It is important to note that simply having a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will conduct an inspection to determine if the individual is eligible for admission under U.S. immigration law.

The conditions for maintaining a valid F1 student status require that the visitor be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at a college or university.

When Mohammad Sarfaraz Hussein arrived to William P. Hobby International Airport July 3, CBP performed an inspection and determined that Hussein did not meet the requirements for admission as an F-1 student.

Additionally, during his CBP inspection, Hussein admitted to working in the US without authorization. CBP officers determined Hussein to be inadmissible to the United States.

Under U.S. immigration law [Section 291 of the INA [8 USC 1361] applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States. In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome ALL grounds of inadmissibility.
Following his CBP inspection, Hussein was transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”


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