We told the story of Salim Yassir, the Palestinian refugee held for four years by USA immigration authorities, whom Judge Maryanne Trump Barry called “a man without a country.” And we hinted, pay attention to this story, because there’s Yankee lawyers coming to Texas. Well, Joshua E. Bardavid is the New York lawyer who argued the Yassir case before Judge Barry, and he is filing a federal suit in behalf of the Ibrahim family. We’ll tell more as we know it, but first, here’s a get-acquainted interview with Mr. Bardavid, that he graciosly agreed to conduct via email–gm
TCRR: We are very interested in the Yassir case as an example of what can happen to “a man without a country.” Of course, we have read Judge Barry’s decision. Can you tell us a little more?
Joshua Bardavid: Mr. Yassir’s case was difficult and strange. I learned a lot about the different tricks of which the government was capable. After we thought
we had finally won the case, the government tried to force Mr. Yassir back onto a ship bound for England, without travel documents. This would have placed his life, or at least well-being, in significant danger for a variety of reasons.
The only reason we were able to stop it was because I had maintained contact with the lawyers for this shipping company, and they contacted me in the middle of the night. I then called the media, and when ICE got calls for comment, and camera crews were showing up on the docks, they called it off.
After his release, Mr. Yassir experienced more difficulty, as the government fitted him with a global positioning tracking device (that didn’t work). In the end, they ended up spending a huge amount of money, resources, and personnel-hours for someone who had never been accused of a crime and who they admitted in court filings did not pose a danger to the community in any way.
Eventually, the government dropped their efforts to track his daily movements, although Mr. Yassir is still required to check in every two months, and has had trouble renewing his employment authorization.
TCRR: Your federal case for the Ibrahim family comes about 90 days after they were abducted by immigration authorities. And we have seen lawyers making reference to a kind of 90-day trigger when it comes to immigration detention. Does this explain the timing of your visit?
Joshua Bardavid: As for the timing of our court filings, it is not directly related to the 90-day trigger, as it is our contention that the government only had the legal authority to detain the Ibrahims for 90-days from the date they were ordered removed in 2004. Because the government chose not to, they cannot now do so.
Our timing is simply related more due to the fact that we were just retained, and this was the earliest we could complete all of the papers required to file the federal court action. We are confident that the law is strongly on our side, and that it is only a matter of time before the Ibrahims will be released (although I suspect there will be very significant efforts to remove the Ibrahims in any way possible — lawful or not — by the government).
TCRR: We consider the Ibrahims a Texas family now. I hope you will be able to stop the government from removing them.
Joshua Bardavid: I will comment more as the case proceeds, and I thank you for your efforts to call attention to this important fight.