By Greg Moses
The office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Lufkin) has confirmed that the Congressman drove four hours Friday evening to visit with Albanian asylum seeker Rrustem Neza who is being held by immigration authorities at a federal detention facility in Jena, Louisiana.
Meanwhile, Rrustem Neza has told his brother Xhemal via telephone that he has been released from “the hole” or solitary confinement and returned to the general population at the LaSalle Detention Facility in LaSalle Parish.
Rrustem had previously reported that he was kept in “the hole” from Aug. 5 until Thursday evening, Aug. 20. Xhemal’s third attempt to visit his brother at LaSalle was successful on Thursday evening after Rep. Gohmert personally intervened.
Rep. Gohmert called Xhemal at 2:15 Thursday afternoon to tell him that a visit would be possible that same evening. Xhemal and another brother drove four and a half hours from their Lufkin home to Jena to meet with their brother for an hour and ten minutes.
Xhemal returned from the visit deeply upset over Rrustem’s apparent condition and drove from Lufkin to Dallas Friday morning to swear an affidavit of his impressions. He also called Rep. Gohmert’s office Friday morning to express concern over Rrustem’s condition.
On Friday afternoon, Rep. Gohmert and an aide drove from Lufkin to Jena to visit with Rrustem, arriving at about 7p.m. according to the Congressman’s staff.
The tone of Xhemal’s voice changed considerably in telephone conversations with the Texas Civil Rights Review after hearing about Rep. Gohmert’s personal visit to his brother.
“Mr. Gohmert has saved my brother’s life,” said a relieved Xhemal Neza speaking by cell phone from the family’s restaurant, Joe’s Italian Grill in Lufkin.
Rrustem and Xhemal Neza applied for asylum after they fled from Albania in the wake of a series of political assassinations. Xhemal’s application was approved, but Rrustem’s was denied.
The Neza family has drawn support from their East Texas neighbors who call “a thousand times a day” says Xhemal.
In addition to the support of neighbors and Rep. Gohmert, the Neza family has also drawn editorial support from the Lufkin Daily News which editorialized once again in favor of asylum.
“Keep screaming, Louie,” said the Wednesday editorial. “We believe Neza deserves to continue living and working in East Texas, and we hope ICE will hold off until the Department of Justice and/or 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will take the time to hear his appeal.”
“All we ask is to look at the facts,” said Xhemal before returning to work on Saturday. “My brother is a good man with a lovely wife and two lovely boys.”