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News ::
The Deportation Case against Amer Jubran and the *Absence* of "Due Process" (english)
24 Nov 2003
Modified: 25 Nov 2003
Discusses the events in Amer Jubran's deportation proceedings which led to his request for "voluntary" deportation
*Please forward widely!*


It is now two weeks since the final hearing in the government's
deportation case against Amer Jubran. Supporters will know by now that
Amer--faced with the breakdown of even a minimal appearance of due
process in the proceedings against him--requested 'voluntary departure.'

Those of us who have known and worked with Amer as activists during his
time in the US recognize that his departure will be an irreplaceable
loss to the activist community. We on the Amer Jubran Defense Committee
have dedicated ourselves to fighting this deportation on principle--as a
fight for freedom of speech and other civil liberties, as a fight
against racism and the targeting of Arab and Muslim immigrants, and as a
fight against the introduction of discriminatory policies and procedures
under the Department of Homeland Security that threaten all of us. We
recognize that the clarity of Amer's voice has been crucial for helping
to establish an important political current in the struggle for justice
in Palestine. We nevertheless believe that his decision to take
voluntary departure was the best and most principled decision he could
have made. We continue to express our outrage at the circumstances of
injustice that have made it necessary.

Deportation proceedings a pretext for an illegitimate investigation

When FBI and INS agents forced their way into Amer's home in November of
2002, they tried to question him about his legal political activities
and then threatened him with "indefinite detention" if he refused to
"cooperate." Amer took a principled stand: he insisted on his right to
counsel, and refused to speak without his lawyer present. For this
refusal to waive his rights the INS jailed him, initially without
charges, and later -- when public outcry made it difficult to continue
holding him-- initiated deportation proceedings against him.

The entire history of those proceedings has been a catalogue of abuses
of police power and judicial authority. Initial charges were clearly
invented at the last minute in order to suit the sudden need for some
kind of pretext for the arrest. These charges were later changed as it
became clear that they would not satisfy the judge's need to present the
public with at least an appearance of sufficient cause. The government
prosecutor failed to submit evidence or witnesses for its newly invented
case of marriage fraud, and defied (without penalty) even the minimum
standards of fair disclosure under court rules. Instead, FBI and INS
agents tried to intimidate Amer's witness pool, and the government
relied on this strategy until the date of the trial. When it became
clear that Amer's main witness would testify, the government prosecutor
spent three hours examining her on matters irrelevant to the case, and
then asked for a last minute continuance.

When the government prosecutor finally handed Amer's lawyer his
submissions for witnesses and evidence one week before the November 6th
trial, it became evident what he had been doing during the two
continuances he had requested. He had in fact been conducting an
ongoing, secret investigation based on the testimony of Amer's witness.
During the proceedings the prosecutor had repeatedly asked questions
concerning matters not directly involved in the case; Amer's lawyer
objected, but the judge overruled him with such words as, "I don't see
the relevance either, but I'll allow the government broad latitude."
Every line of illegitimate questioning opened in the proceedings became
grounds to investigate people not directly involved in the case whose
own status made them vulnerable to government harassment.

Looking at these documents and recognizing that the government was using
the deportation proceedings to continue the fishing expedition it had
begun at the time of his arrest, Amer made it clear to his lawyer that
he had no intention of taking the stand and giving testimony that the
government might then use against other people who were vulnerable. When
his lawyer insisted that he would want to question Amer on the stand
( "Do you want to win your case, or do you want to protect other
people?") Amer asked him to seek a continuance in order to consider
other strategies. Amer was adamant in his refusal to cooperate with the
government's use of the immigration proceedings against him as a means
of widening the net of its harassment and repression of immigrants.

November 6th trial--the judge abandons the appearance of 'due process'

On the day before the trial, Amer received word that the judge had
denied the continuance (after granting two prior continuances to the
government prosecutor on grounds that were trivial, personal, and now
clearly false). He also learned that his lawyer had made a deal with the
judge and prosecutor that would have required Amer to take the stand on
November 6th, and had then given the prosecutor another three or four
months for a follow-up investigation. His lawyer had made this
arrangement without consulting Amer, in direct violation of an agreement
that he would make no such arrangements without Amer's consent.

On November 6th, Amer reiterated his request for a continuance; the
judge again denied his request. Amer then made it clear that he did not
have faith in his counsel and requested time to seek new counsel. The
judge insisted that if he fired his counsel he would have to take the
stand without counsel, and if need be he, the judge would conduct direct
questioning. Amer insisted that he lacked the expertise to represent
himself. The judge insisted that the trial go forward that day whether
Amer had counsel or not.

It was under these circumstances that Amer then told the judge, "If
there is no justice for me here in the United States, I will take
voluntary departure." It had been revealed in rapid succession that none
of the ordinary
protections applied to him: his own counsel was no longer acting in his
interests, but making deals with his adversary; the judge had abandoned
even the appearance of a commitment to due process. It was also clear
that the judge had facilitated the government strategy at every stage --
permitting illegitimate questions of Amer's witness, accepting
government evidence and witnesses beyond a reasonable deadline, and
permitting the government to prolong its investigation through two long
continuances based on false pretexts.

As soon as Amer asked for voluntary departure, the judge began to plead
with him to testify and to continue with the proceedings. He remarked
that Amer had been "ahead in points" when the first part of the trial
had concluded, and that the latest government submissions of evidence
had done nothing to weaken Amer's case. He tried to persuade Amer that
he was likely to win his case if he would only proceed with it. The
judge also imposed a "no appeal" condition if Amer chose voluntary
departure. The judge's statements must be seen as further complicity
with the government's strategy, in keeping with his failure to bring the
matter to a timely conclusion at the end of the last hearing, and his
denial of due process. The outcome of the purported immigration trial
had become immaterial; the court was now facilitating an investigation
with no legitimate legal goal and with no apparent end.

As many who know Amer are aware, his legal battle has never been about
staying in the United States. It has been about exposing this "routine
immigration proceeding" for what it has been all along: an attempt by
the US government to silence voices for Palestine and dissent against
the various wars of our government, waged both openly and silently, in
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine. On November 6th, Amer refused to
participate further in the injustice for which his case was being used.

We fully support Amer's decision to put an end to these illegitimate
proceedings. We believe that government violations of fundamental rights
committed in his arrest and detention, in police surveillance of his
political activities over the last three years, and in the course of his
year-long immigration trial, demand redress. We intend to pursue justice
through other legal venues.

What can we do?

In an article on Amer's trial written for the New York Sun, columnist
Josh Gerstein quotes a Boston pro-Israel activist responding to the news
of Amer's voluntary departure with the words, "I'm excited to hear that
he's not going to be around any more."

Amer has been jailed, held on bond, and targeted for deportation in
order to silence his voice and his politics. This silencing is part of a
sustained attack on a political community. It's up to us to demonstrate
that those who are now gloating over Amer's departure have no cause to
do so.

We invite all those who are angry that this case has ended with Amer's
departure to affirm a commitment to the principles he fought to

--A single democratic Palestine in all of historic Palestine --The right of the Palestinian people to resist colonization and reclaim

their land
--An end to all US aid to Israel: military, economic, and political

The Amer Jubran Defense Committee
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Contact Amer Jubran? (english)
25 Nov 2003
Please ask Amer to contact me regarding his case and the massive confusion regarding the Mid-East (and global) crisis.

Thank you,

Jonathan Peretz Chance
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