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News ::
Boston Detainee Held without Charges; Friends Pressure INS
15 Nov 2002
Modified: 16 Nov 2002
On November 15, about eighty people called for the Immigration and
Naturalization Services (INS) to release Palestinian activist Amer
Jubran at an early-morning rally in front of the regional INS
headquarters in the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in downtown
Boston.
Jubran has a hearing scheduled for Thursday, November 21 to set bond. If the judge grants him bond, that will allow him to be released from detention pending trial. He has been held in an Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) unit of the Adult Correctionals Institute (ACI) in Cranston, Rhode Island since his early-morning November 4 arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and INS at his Cumberland, Rhode Island home.

Rally attendees emphasized their view that the "Immigration Service's refusal to allow Mr. Jubran to be released pending resolution of his immigration situation is politically motivated," as Urszula Masny-Latos of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild said in a prepared statement. The statement condemned the United States Department of Justice for "flagrant abuses of human rights" over the past 13 months, including the "disappearance" of more than one thousand immigrants held without charge or access to lawyers, new regulations that allow the Department of Justice to detain immigrants indefinitely, secret hearings for immigration cases, and discrimination against immigrants born in certain designated countries.

Activist Rawan Barakat, a Palestinian-American woman who has become friends with Jubran through political activities, said she attended the rally because she feels that she is discrimated against as a Palestinian, especially since September 11: "When we took the oath, we felt that we had the same right as every American." She called Jubran's detention "ridiculous" and "inhumane." Boston city councillor Chuck Turner, who has worked closely with Jubran in the past, called Jubran "scrupulous, [with a] consistent focus on working with the law".

Nancy Murray of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the timing of the arrest, coming three years after Jubran was granted a green card and only two days after he helped organize a major rally of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP), "creates a clear impression that the actions of the INS were tainted by improper political considerations a violation of his rights under the First Amendment". The ACLU was involved in a previous case of Jubran's in July, 2001, in which Jubran was arrested while protesting an Israeli Independence Day celebration in Brookline.

Immigration attorney Nelson Brill, Jubran's attorney of record, connected Jubran's case to the political environment: "This government is trying to create a climate of fear." He said he had been asked to take cases from many other immigrants who had received similar early-morning visits from Immigration officials, including one case in which officers went from room to room in every apartment in a large complex, asking residents to prove their immigration status.

In Jubran's case, Brill said the only charge he had been informed of against Jubran was a minor techical violation for which by law an immigrant may not be detained indefinitely. Jubran filed for permanent resident status (a green card) in 1997, but his application was not granted until 1999. In 1998, he was told to, and did, get official papers notarized to comply with INS regulations. Brill said the INS have told him they are investigating whether Jubran "willfully misrepresented" the date on the official forms to represent the original 1997 filing date as opposed to the 1998 notarization date.

On November 12, Brill wrote a letter to INS District Director Steven Farquharson protesting Jubran's indefinite detention. In that letter, Brill says that INS agent Mike Clifford hung up the telephone on him when Brill inquired why Jubran was being detained indefinitely.

Brill was quite angry at Jubran's treatment in prison. He said Jubran had both his arms and legs shackled, and was told that international regulations on treatment of prisoners did not apply to the ACI. He also said one guard denied Jubran telephone calls by saying "there's nothing in the constitution about telephones." Activist Richard Hugus, who has visited Jubran in jail, said the FBI told Jubran that if he did not agree to be interrogated without a lawyer, they would "let him rot for fifty years."

The rally organizers invited Farquharson to make a statement to the rally. Instead, two organizers, Noah Cohen and Lana Habash, were permitted into the building to speak with INS agent Dennis Reardon. According to Cohen and Habash, Reardon would not comment on specifics of Jubran's case, saying only that the INS follows the consitution.

Reached on the telephone, INS officials would not speak to specifics of any conversation or of Jubran's case, citing privacy concerns. They did confirm his date of arrest, said that he was being held for "immigration violations", and said that the INS does not detain people indefinitely. They also said that they have been receiving "many, many letters" regarding the case.

Organizers plan on holding another picket to protest Jubran's detention in front of the Federal Building at 8 AM on November 21 before his bond hearing.