Young People in the Rio Grande Valley Receive Rough Treatment from Authorities

By Nick Braune

Youth in the Rio Grande Valley (on the Tex-Mex border) face frequent attacks by various authorities who increasingly consider youth as “the other.” I’ll offer a few examples momentarily; but first, some context. The Valley, with some of the poorest counties in the country, is over-policed — progressives here even speak about the “militarization of the border,” referring to the semi-occupied atmosphere inside the Border Patrol’s “checkpoints.” And perhaps because local to federal authorities know that if resistance sentiment should arise in the long-impoverished Latino population of the Valley and similar places, it would massively involve youth, the authorities tend to focus their attention (suspicion, irritation, snap judgments, etc.) toward young people.

If socialist philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya (1910-87) were here, she would mock the various official claims that authorities must police the young people to prevent them from acting irrationally. Dunayevskaya would say that the officials are not worried about occasional irrationality in youth but are far more afraid of the opposite: the insights and reflective qualities of young people. Authorities are afraid of “youth as reason,” so youth are consistently targeted in tense areas.

True, no group formally voted to target youth, but with a hundred little nervous vectors almost spontaneously nudging in one general direction during the evolving economic and social crisis, no one had to vote; there simply evolved a more watchful mentality toward the young, and a “smack ‘em down quick” mentality. (I am reminded of the town of Raymondville following the onion field strike of 1979. The documentary “Valley of Tears” shows how after the strike, for some crazy reason, the authorities – they had supported the rich onion growers — began kicking many Mexican-American kids out of the high school. Raymondville activist, Juan Guerra, just out of law school, set up his own “school” in a garage to combat the expulsions, and with help from those youth, waged a bitter fight to get on the school board.)

Here are four examples of ways youth, viewed as “the other,” have been smacked recently in the Rio Grande Valley.

First, there have been continuing reports that the Evins Regional Juvenile Facility is Edinburg still has not created a safe climate for the youth held there. The Justice Department intervened in 2006, and in 2008 a reform plan was worked out to keep inmates from beating each other and to keep nut-case guards from beating the young inmates.

But on May 5th The Monitor of McAllen reminded us that problems are lingering on there; it told the story of a 17-year-old youth, Brandon, who had felt so terrorized that he “secluded himself in the isolated security ward…He has refused to rejoin the general population for seven months after a beating he received from other inmates.” (I wonder if Evins provides proper psychological help for youth with PTSD.) In case you are wondering, Brandon was sent to Evins, to undergo hell, because of a graffiti charge — this is how to treat youth?

Second, a Brownsville Mexican American, Francisco Dominguez, was tried as an adult and given 20 years in prison this summer for killing his Anglo high school drama teacher, who was prominent in Valley cultural circles. The prosecutor refused to see the 16-year-old as a victim, although there was evidence the kid and other male students had been lured several times to the teacher’s house to do odd jobs and were asked to pose with their shirts off to show off muscles. Dominguez was very vulnerable psychologically, starved for attention by the father figure who also introduced kids to some male stripper friends at his home.

I spoke with Dominguez’ attorney, who was startled at the way the state aggressively prosecuted the youth and refused to give any credence to the kid’s explanation that he had stabbed the teacher (who outweighed Dominguez by 100 pounds) in self-defense during a sexual assault.

Why didn’t the jury listen to Dominguez’ side of the story? A partial answer: On his first night after being transferred to an adult facility, the youth had been interrogated by a Texas Ranger, and confessed. Because no lawyer was present at the 10 p.m. interrogation, which took three hours, and because the interrogation was not videotaped, it is not surprising to me that the Ranger got Dominguez to confess that he had killed the high school teacher not in self-defense but as part of a planned robbery. The kid signed the statement. Afterward, the youth could not explain well why he had confessed the way he did to the Ranger if the confession wasn’t true.

(Some students in a South Texas College philosophy class recently critiqued the standard Reid Technique of interrogation to see why it is so successful — so “successful” that it results in many false confessions — and the students even discovered that in England it is illegal to use that interrogation technique on juveniles. A 40-year-old Texas Ranger, experienced in interrogation, can get an insecure, scared 16-year-old to confess to anything.)

A third case of youth being targeted was exposed in The Monitor this year; the piece criticized an Edinburg Justice of the Peace who has thrown 137 teens (17 or older) into jail on truancy-related issues. “Some students stayed as long as 49 days, continuing to miss classes and in some cases jeopardizing their chance of graduating.” (Although judges cannot legally send a youth to jail for truancy, the JP would incarcerate them on “failure to appear” charges related to truancy, or incarcerate them if they failed to pay off truancy-related fines. Jailing kids for skipping school — is this sensible?)

The situation is so serious that the ACLU has announced a federal class action lawsuit. The Monitor, (7/10/10) reports: “Francisco de Luna spent 18 days in jail last year for a list of offenses as minor as wearing saggy pants to school. Elizabeth Diaz was kicked out of her high school for excessive absences — incurred during two weeks she spent locked up for missing class… The lawsuit alleges that local justices of the peace routinely failed to offer teens access to attorneys and to verify whether they had the financial means to pay off their fines on their own.”

The Monitor quotes an ACLU attorney: “The schools and the county should be providing services that will help keep these kids in school instead of punishing them to the point where they cannot return to school.”

As a fourth example, let me conclude by sharing an interview I conducted for my weekly column in the Mid-Valley Town Crier, August 18, 2010. I spoke with Victoria Garza, an intelligent, socially conscious young woman (perhaps early twenties) who describes herself as a mother, a musician, and a member of the G Collective in Edinburg, where she lives. Although this interview involves a relatively small incident, it may provide some insight into the current situation in the Valley.

Braune: If I understand correctly, the Edinburg police recently overstepped their boundaries in response to a routine noise complaint they claimed to have received. Briefly, what happened? And what was the attitude of the police?

Garza:A little after 9 p.m., I was informed about a police officer outside my house. I immediately went outside to address him. We were having a punk show so everyone was coming inside the house and the music was stopped, because we figured it might be a noise complaint. I found the officer banging on the front window, pointing at someone inside, yelling, “YOU, COME HERE!” I asked what was going on and the officer was demanding to see the owner of the house. I remained calm and repeated, “I live here, what’s going on?”

He continued to yell, demanding to see the owner, so I explained that no one here owns the house because we rent it. He then asked for my ID. I lost my ID a month ago and haven’t had time or money to replace it, so I said politely, “I don’t have an ID, but I can give you my information.” I gave my first and last name, address, and date of birth.

He said that there was a noise complaint and that it’s against a city ordinance to have amplifiers in our house. I told him that I was unaware of this ordinance and that it was my understanding that we can have a reasonable loudness before 11 p.m. I calmly explained that enforcing the ordinance tonight doesn’t make sense because we were using the same speakers we practice with. He then said that there is a fine of $500 and went to his car to get the citation. I waited.

When he came back, he asked for my middle name. I told him and he told me to put down the food I was eating, grabbed my wrist, and handcuffed me. “I have a warrant for you.” Being barefoot, I asked if I could get some shoes, and the officer scoffed and said, “They can bring them to you.” I remained calm and respectful; he was aggressive, rude and macho.

Braune: I understand you had an unpaid fine, so your friends went down, paid it, and you were released. Were the young people doing anything to antagonize the police?

Garza:Not at all. Everyone came inside the house in a calm manner because no one likes to talk to police, who have a reputation for aggression. They had no reason to harass anyone either, people were just hanging out in the back porch: no pot smoking, no minors drinking, nothing besides the loud noise at 9 p.m., and that stopped immediately.

Braune: You explained last week to me that your house provides a space where young people can talk, chill and enjoy common culture. (I personally visited your Edinburg collective last spring for a potluck dinner fundraiser.)

Garza:Yes, we host an array of events, from thought-provoking films and skill-building workshops to punk shows and Son Jarocho workshops (Afro-indigenous music from Veracruz). We provide one of the few “venues” where people under 18 can go for shows and events.

Braune: Often police attitudes (like anger, rigidity toward youth), their “community interactions,” are puzzling.

Garza:I don’t know why the police get hostile. Maybe it’s a power-trip, or when they don’t find just the response they expect, it makes them angry. They definitely don’t expect us to know our rights, such as our right to refuse them entry without probable cause. Everyone here knows to go inside when cops show up, shut and lock the door, locate the people who live at the house, and remain quiet until we figure out why they are here by someone going outside to talk. They may think they can push their way into our home, but we don’t let anyone in if we don’t trust them, and we don’t trust the police.

Braune: Any follow-up?

Garza:Yes, because of this incident, our collective recently handed out ACLU “Know your rights” flyers at Edinburg’s National Night Out. Everyone we met agreed the police are usually aggressive. Some already knew some rights they had, like not consenting to an unlawful search. My advice to young people is to remain calm and respectful. Don’t talk back or resist arrest. Most importantly, learn your rights.

Braune: Victoria, thanks for your comments.

A youth terrorized in Evins for graffiti offenses, another one targeted by a Texas Ranger (and a vigorous prosecutor) for fighting back against a predatory teacher, 137 teens going to jail for truancy, local police trying one evening to rattle the G Collective which is reaching out to youth — listing these examples admittedly does not prove anything. But older people in the Valley should seriously examine the hypothesis that the younger generation is being targeted as the suspect “other.” I doubt, however, that the youth will want to wait until the older people wake up: Although the young appear to have few allies, they do have reason on their side.


Embassy Letter to Saad Nabeel

We have typed the following letter from an image file provided by Saad Nabeel via email. It is the letter he was given at the American Embassy during his interview of Aug. 17, 2010–gm

The Embassy of the United States of America
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date: (Handwritten) 8/17/10

Dear Applicant:

We regret to inform you that you have been found ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa based on section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under U.S. immigration law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas must satisfy the interviewing officer that they are entitled to the type of visa for which they are applying. A denial under section 214(b) means that you were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the U.S. would be consistent with one of the nonimmigrant visa categories established under U.S. immigration law, or, more commonly, that you were unable to satisfy the requirements for the particular nonimmigrant visa category for which you have applied today.

The requirements of each nonimmigrant visa category differ from one another. However, one of the most common elements within the various nonimmigrant visa requirements is for the applicant to demonstrate that they have a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning. Applicants to whom this requirement applies usually meet the requirement by demonstrating that they have strong ties overseas which would ensure their return to a foreign country after a temporary visit to the United States. Some of the ties that may be considered during the interview include professional, employment, educational, family or social linkage to a foreign country. You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.

Today’s decision cannot be appealed. However, you may reapply if you have additional evidence to demonstrate your qualification for a visa. If you do decide to reapply, you must submit a new application form and photo, pay the visa application fee again, and schedule an appointment from Saimon Overseas Ltd. If you choose to reapply, you should be prepared to demonstrate that your circumstances have changed since the application. There can be no guarantee that you will receive a different decision. Only a new interview can determine that.


(Handwritten initials)

Consular Officer
Nonimmigrant Visa Section

Saad Nabeel Denied Student Visa for Second Time

On his second visit to the American Consulate in Bangladesh, Saad Nabeel found an interviewer who was up to speed on the latest publicity, but still unwilling to approve a student visa so that he could attend SMU as an Environmental Engineering student.

The Consulate official Tuesday afternoon suggested that Nabeel attend the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

“Even when I told her I didn’t speak the language, that two of my cousins who are IN SCHOOL here in Bangladesh told me lectures are in Bangla (not English), she kept repeating ‘Why don’t you go to BUET!? They speak perfect English there!'” said Nabeel in an email.

Nabeel said he saw highlighted printouts of articles about him.

“She asked me, ‘How did you get into SMU in March? I was on the site and it said that the deadlines were in January!'” said Nabeel.

“Someday, people will respect me I hope,” said Nabeel. “One day they won’t talk to me like I’m trash. That day is a dream for now.”

Nabeel was also turned down for a student visa during a visit to the consulate in June.

Living with Busted Dreams: A Voice from Australia

We don’t have a good answer for Harone when he asks below if there is anything that can be done to help him return to his homeland, America. But we respect his question and his pain. The following letter to the Texas Civil Rights Review is reprinted with permission.–gm

Hi, I am Harone and I was at the US at the age of two until the age of nineteen. My parents took me there when i was a kid and they had applied for asylum. The asylum was denied and we left before being deported in 2005. My dad stayed there a bit longer.

My mom and I left to india in 2005. I went to a village and lived in India and got sick the very first week. I was so frustrated with life and I felt everything was against me. I had no friends and absolutely nothing there. I got angry one day and took my hand and hit it against my bed frame which was wood and I fractured the side of my palm. My experience there was miserable. I didn’t like to stay there one minute. There were many days where I didn’t feel like living.

I somehow managed to land up in Australia on a student visa to pursue Electrical engineering. I ran out of money and eventually had to discontinue engineering. I finally decided engineering was probably not for me since I couldn’t complete it in U.S and Australia too. I didn’t want to go back to India so in 2008, I ended up doing hairdressing since it’s the cheapest course you could do that allows you to live here.

Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be doing such a course and no disrespect to hairdressers but how can you do something you don’t like just because you are forced to, otherwise you have to return to a village where you would be lonely without friends or anything.

I was doing engineering in Rutgers University in America and finished one year where I had such a good life. I am 24 and a half years old today and I have no degree and at a financial loss and it’s been almost six years away from the U.S and not a single day goes by where I don’t think about what life would have been today if I never left.

I would’ve had a BMW, a good education, a house and every other thing students dream of. We ran out of money about 2008 since it’s expensive to live in Australia. I just want to live in Australia since I have no other option. There is no guarantee of me getting permanent residence.

If things don’t work out for me in Australia i have to go back to India with nothing there for me. Without a degree or qualification in India, people disrespect you and your family. Society will tell my parents what kind of kid did you raise? an uneducated spoiled kid who does nothing in his life. Parents would tell their kids to stay away from me.

India is not my home and I still feel Australia is not my home too even though it’s a good country. If I was forced to live in Australia for the rest of my life, I don’t see a point to living anymore. Even if I had a million dollars in Australia there would be no happiness. It would just be a totally sad life.

I did hairdressing and have applied for my permanent residence here. I have no more money, no degree absolutely nothing. I have kept to myself ever since I left U.S. I don’t really socialize anymore and people always wonder why I am so aloof, but they’ve never been removed from a country. They don’t know what it’s like to lose everything you have.

I don’t know what to do. Well I wanted to know if the DRAM Act is passed will I be eligible to come back to the U.S. We left in 2005 and it was under voluntary departure so i wasn’t exactly deported. I graduated high school there and lived there for 17 years of my life. I want to go back there so bad.

There are many days where it feels like I am living a dream and it’s so hard to face this present reality that I am in. Now i believe that you need to study for two years under the DREAM Act or get a degree. Well how am I supposed to do that if i no longer have money to study? It’s not fair. My parents could’ve easily afforded to pay $30,000 or even $40,000 a year if we go back 6 years ago but now they are struggling to make ends meet.

I am sure there are many other traumatic stories out there. My life will never be the same again because I will always wonder what life would’ve been, had I never left. It’s just not right and not fair. My parents were making more than $500 a day in the US and now they struggle to survive and i struggle to survive and i don’t have the money to study even if the DREAM Act passes.

How can the government remove you from the U.S and then let’s suppose they passed the DREAM Act, how can they put conditions on there that we need to show funds to study. How can families support themselves after leaving a country after 17 years and then expect them to find a job in a third world country and then pay bills for my education in U.S.

As far as my knowledge about the DREAM Act, I may not even be allowed to come back since I left in 2005 and I’m not one of the recent departure cases. What if they say you should’ve been in the U.S until 2008 or something so that means they are allowed to get away with cases such as mine.

Every day I still think about the life I had. I am not really looking for publicity, I just want to know if there is a way in which would be able to come back.

Saad Nabeel Tries again for Student Visa to SMU

By the time the sun rises over Dallas on Tuesday, Saad Nabeel will have his second answer from the US Consulate in Bangladesh in his latest effort to return to college in the USA as a student at SMU. The appointment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Bangladesh time or 2:30 a.m. in Texas.

“There’s not much to say in advance about it,” said Nabeel via email Monday. “I just want to go home and I know it’s not going to be easy.”

Nabeel’s first meeting at the US Consulate in Bangladesh ended in disappointment in late June when his student visa was denied. Tuesday he returns to the consulate with additional arguments and documents organized by New York immigration attorney Ted Cox.

Nabeel was a scholarship student at the University of Texas at Arlington last Fall when he was abruptly deported to Bangladesh with his mother and father. He had been living in the USA since age three and considers himself American. A Facebook page supporting his return to the USA has about 5,000 “like” votes.

The Legal Argument for the Return of Saad Nabeel

The following letter from New York immigration attorney Ted Cox sets forth the legal case for granting a student visa to Saad Nabeel so that he can enroll at SMU.

Nabeel graduated from high school in Texas and was enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington in the Fall of 2009 when immigration authorities in Dallas detained his father for deportation to Bangladesh. The younger Nabeel then accompanied his mother to the Canada border where they applied for admission to Canada. When their application to Canada was denied, Nabeel and his mother were detained for 42 days and deported to Bangladesh.

See more about Saad Nabeel and the effort to win his return to the USA at Facebook.–gm

Theodore N. Cox, Esq.
New York, New York

July 7, 2010

Embassy of the United States

Attn: Non-Immigrant Visa Unit

Re: Non-Immigrant Visa Re-application

NABEEL, Saad Mohammad (F-1 Visa Applicant)

Dear Consul:

I am writing you as the attorney for Saad Mohammad Nabeel (“Mr. Nabeel” or “Applicant”). A copy of our G-28 was submitted by Mr. Nabeel at his initial visa interview on June 21, 2010. Another is attached with this letter. Mr. Nabeel is a nineteen year old young man seeking an F-1 visa in order to study environmental engineering at Southern Methodist University (“SMU”), in Dallas, Texas beginning in the Fall semester of 2010. However, at the end of the interview on June 21, 2010, Mr. Nabeel was found ineligible for a nonimmigrant visa based upon INA § 214(b) and INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(ii)

Mr. Nabeel has retained me to ensure that he fulfills all the requirements for a successful visa re-application in Summer 2010. In the following letter memorandum, I will outline the bases for concluding that this Applicant fulfills all the requirements for both an F-1 visa, entitling him to non-immigrant status pursuant to Section 214(b), as well as the requirements for a waiver of the three year unlawful presence bar pursuant to Sections 212(a)(9)(B)(iii) (exception for Minors), and 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I), and Section 212(d)(3).

I) Mr. Nabeel can Demonstrate that He is a Bona Fide Student With Financial Resources and Without Immigrant Intentions

A. Mr. Nabeel Will Be a Bona Fide Student in the USA

The young applicant, Mr. Nabeel, has a letter of acceptance from Southern Methodist University’s program in Environmental Engineering. Please see attached hereto as Exhibit A Applicant’s SMU acceptance letter to the SMU Lyle School of Engineering, as well as a copy of his I-20, and proof of SEVIS registration. Mr. Nabeel is prepared to explain fully how he came to choose this university as his place of study. He will bring with him many documents attesting to his long history of being a very good student, transcripts, SAT scores, letters of recommendations from his high school teachers. He will explain in detail his interest in environmental engineering, a highly specialized and also very recent and still developing area of engineering studies. SMU is one of a very few universities, not merely in the U.S., but anywhere globally, offering a program in environmental engineering, and Mr. Nabeel was extremely honored to have obtained a place in this ever more competitive program. See attached as Exhibit B a brief statement from Mr. Nabeel regarding his desire to attend SMU and their outstanding environmental engineering program.

The SMU Lyle School of Engineering has a Strategic Plan outlining goals for training engineers “who will be global citizens, leaders, and entrepreneurs, to help peoples all over the world,” according to Professor Jeffery Talley, Ph.D., P.E., Chairman of the SMU Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering. As he notes in his letter in support of Mr. Nabeel’s application for a student visa, attached as Exhibit C, “Bangladesh, with its monsoon caused floods that annually destroy much of what little infrastructure they have” is precisely the sort of developing country the Lyle School of Engineering seeks to have an impact on with its environmental engineering program. In his letter Professor Talley promises to show Mr. Nabeel “how to help his countrymen to have clean water, healthy sanitation, clean air, and more reliable electric power.”

Another SMU engineering professor, H.Charles Baker, also provides a letter in support of Mr. Nabeel’s student visa to study at SMU, further emphasizing the developmental and humanitarian concerns of the Lyle School of Engineering. He also explains that his colleague, Dr. Talley, is the founder of the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, endowed by the family of the late Hunt oil billionaire, and focusing its efforts on the infrastructure needs of impoverished countries like Bangladesh. Dr. Talley and the Hunt Institute have both the desire and the resources to set up a relationship with the Bangladesh government, as well as private companies in Bangladesh with whom Mr. Nabeel can work to implement plans for modernizing the infrastructure to bring clean water and sanitation, clean air, and more reliable electric power to Bangladesh. See Professor Baker’s letter attached as Exhibit D.

B. Mr. Nabeel Can Demonstrate Financial Resources to Support His Period of Study in the USA

The SMU Lyle School of Engineering has a long history of cooperative education, whereby students begin alternating semesters of school and work during their sophomore year. Beginning in August 2011, Mr. Nabeel will begin working with organizations that will provide him with direct experience in his field of infrastructure modernization, even as he earns money to pay for his education. He will earn his engineering degree in five years in this program and will graduate with the training and the organizational contacts necessary to begin contributing within his field of Environmental Engineering immediately.

Mr. Nabeel will be supported by the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, and his four years of co-op with the Hunt Institute will be spent developing plans for infrastructure improvements in Bangladesh. See the letters from Engineering Professor Charles Baker, and from Dr. Jeffery Talley, Professor and Chair of the SMU Department of Environmental Engineering, and founding Director of the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, Exhibits C and D.

In addition, Mr. Ralph Isenberg, a prominent businessman from Dallas, Texas, has offered to provide all financial support required by Mr. Nabeel during his first year of school, as well as whatever additional support is required for the succeeding years. See attached as Exhibit E a recent letter from Mr. Isenberg.

C. Mr. Nabeel Can Demonstrate His Intent to Return to Bangladesh After Completing His Program of Study

Mr. Nabeel’s career goal of becoming an environmental engineer has been inspired by his recognition of the great needs of Bangladesh for basic infrastructure. As he explains in his statement, he was shocked when he returned to Bangladesh in January 2010 with his parents, after many years living in the United States, to witness the levels of poverty and disease in his own country, and to experience the lack of clean water and clean air that diminished the daily life of everyone in the country. While he had previously wanted to become an electrical engineer, pursuing technical innovations in robotics and computers, when he returned to Bangladesh he had a dramatic social awakening. He now feels an intense moral obligation towards his own country of origin, Bangladesh, feeling that he has been given a new sense of purpose that was never before part of his life. He believes that he can make a difference in Bangladesh, helping millions of people achieve the very basic, very necessary goal of accessible clean water, helping to end the horrific patterns of disease that destroy the lives of so many of his fellow Bangladesh citizens due to unclean water. Because of this new sense of moral imperative, Mr. Nabeel has a very strong commitment to returning to Bangladesh to engage in this life’s work as soon as he has completed his schooling at SMU.

In addition, his sponsors at SMU, Dr. Talley and the Hunt Institute, are committed to his return to Bangladesh, as well. Their whole focus is to train individuals like Mr. Nabeel, and to aid him in his future life’s work in Bangladesh by creating connections between the Hunt Institute and the Bangladesh government, as well as private contractors, as well as Eastern University in Dhaka, enabling Mr. Nabeel to return to Bangladesh and carry on his humanitarian engineering goals. Please see attached as Exhibit F, a letter from Dr. Chowdhury, Vice Chairman of Eastern University, offering Mr. Nabeel a teaching and research position in a new Department of Environmental Engineering that Eastern University plans to create in the next few years, based on input and advice from SMU’s Hunt Institute. See attached as Exhibit G, a letter from a private engineering firm, Rahimafrooz, Limited, discussing Mr. Nabeel’s plans for education at SMU, and his planned return to doing teaching and research at Eastern University in Dhaka, and offering Mr. Nabeel a consulting position with the Rahimafrooz firm that would enable him to pursue various environmental engineering projects in Bangladesh.

In sum, Mr. Nabeel’s plans for obtaining an Environmental Engineering degree at SMU are closely bound up with his plans for returning to Bangladesh to pursue his life’s work in developing basic aspects of the infrastructure in Bangladesh. Everyone involved in encouraging and supporting his education at SMU is equally committed to Mr. Nabeel’s return to Bangladesh to apply the knowledge he will gain at SMU to allaying the desperate needs of his country people in Bangladesh.

Mr. Nabeel also has extensive family ties, on both his mother’s and his father’s sides of the family in Bangladesh. On his father’s side, he has uncles and aunts who are medical doctors, school teachers, businessmen and women, as well as a retired army general. On his mother’s side, he has uncles and aunts who are lawyers, teachers, politicians, high level government workers, and so on. He also has several cousins of approximately his own age attending university in Bangladesh. While it was a huge shock to return to Bangladesh after being away for so long, Mr. Nabeel has much stronger familial ties in Bangladesh than he had in the U.S., and he is now reconnecting with many of these relatives. His extensive family ties provide a highly valuable and significant foundation for the professional career he plans to develop in Bangladesh when he returns home again after advanced training as an engineer in the U.S. See attached as Exhibit H a partial list of Mr. Nabeel’s family ties in Bangladesh.

Based upon these strong Bangladesh family ties, as well as career plans that are fundamentally grounded in Mr. Nabeel’s aspirations for returning to Bangladesh to contribute to infrastructural development in Bangladesh, the Applicant is entitled to non-immigrant status pursuant to Section 214(b).

II) Mr. Nabeel Can Demonstrate Eligibility for a 212(d)(3) Waiver Pursuant to Matter of Hranka

Mr. Nabeel was born on January 21, 1991, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, at the age of three, on May 9, 1994, he was brought to the U.S. on a B-2 visitor’s visa, accompanying his parents, Mohammad Musa Tarique, and Laila Nazmin. He lived in the U.S. with his parents, for the next 15 years, graduating from high school with very high grades, and attending the University of Texas with several scholarships. His uncle, Haider Nabi, a U.S. citizen, submitted an I-130 on behalf of Mr. Nabeel, along with his father and mother on January 15, 1999, and it was approved on January 15, 2008, and the priority date became current in January 2009. As beneficiaries of INA 245i, Mr. Nabeel and his parents would have been eligible to adjust status, despite his father’s removal order, final on April 4, 2001 when their petition for review was denied by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, a prior attorney, Lea Greenberger, failed to properly and promptly apply for a joint motion to reopen Mr. Nabeel’s father’s case based on their approved I-130 and their eligibility to adjust status in January 2009. Unfortunately, Mr. Nabeel was deported on January 4, 2010 along with his two parents, due to this dramatically significant oversight of his prior attorney. See attached as Exhibit I the I-130 approval notice, as well as removal documents.

On January 4, 2010, the date of he and his parents’ deportation to Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mr. Nabeel was eighteen years and eleven months old; his nineteenth birthday would be occurring on January 21, 2010. Because there is an exception to the unlawful presence bar for all those who are minors, who remain under the age of eighteen, Mr. Nabeel did not begin to accumulate unlawful presence until his eighteenth birthday, on January 21, 2009. See INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(iii), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(B)(iii). On January 4, 2010, the day he and his parents returned to Dhaka, Mr. Nabeel had thus been unlawfully present according to the statute, for between six and twelve months, and incurred the three year unlawful presence bar pursuant to INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(1), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(B)(i)(1).

Mr. Nabeel is eligible for a waiver of the three year unlawful presence bar, however, based on Matter of Hranka, 16 I&N. Dec. 491 (BIA 1978). According to the BIA in Matter of Hranka, there are three relevant factors in evaluating eligibility for a waiver, and in each case, a balancing test must be done, weighing the positive equities against any possible negative factors. According to Matter of Hranka, an application under section 212(d)(3), requires a weighing of: 1) the risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted; 2) the seriousness of the applicant’s immigration law, or criminal law violation; 3) the nature of the applicant’s reasons for wishing to enter the U.S.

Mr. Nabeel has no criminal record, and he can document an exemplary record as a good student, through high school, and then during his first year in college at the University of Texas. See attached as Exhibit J letters from teachers, as well as transcripts and other documents attesting to his strong history as a student. There is no reason to think that he poses any risk of harm to society if admitted to the U.S., and so the first Hranka factor has no negative weight in his case.

Regarding the second Hranka factor, the seriousness of the applicant’s immigration law violation, Mr. Nabeel has a relatively clean slate, as well. Mr. Nabeel was brought, as a three year old infant to the U.S. by his parents, having no choice in the matter. And he remained in the U.S., as the only child of loving parents who sought to obtain legal status in the U.S. As a minor, he could hardly have chosen to leave the U.S. while his parents, who had fallen out of status, continued to reside there. Surely, this is why Congress chose, in Section 212(a)(9)(B) to except minors from the unlawful presence bar until the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, despite their eligibility to adjust status based upon their 245i eligibility and their approved I-130 family petition that became current in January 2009, Mr. Nabeel and his parents had an attorney who failed to promptly apply for the necessary Joint Motion to Reopen their case in January 2009. Accordingly, Mr. Nabeel was deported with his parents on January 4, 2010, when he was a few weeks short of nineteen years of age, and so subject to the three year unlawful presence bar under Section 212(a)(9)(B).

The negative factors in his case are minimal due to Mr. Nabeel’s status as a minor during most of his time in the U.S., and as merely a derivative child on his parents’ applications for status, as well as on their removal orders. However, the strength of Mr. Nabeel’s claim for a 212(d)(3) waiver lies in the positive weight of his reasons for seeking a nonimmigrant visa, the third Hranka factor. While the Hranka Board held that “there is no requirement that the applicant’s reasons for wishing to enter the U.S. be ‘compelling,” Mr. Nabeel’s reasons are indeed compelling, and should make the balancing test readily come out in his favor.

As explained above in Parts I (A) and I (C), as well as in his personal statement, Mr. Nabeel experienced an intense social awakening when he arrived back in Bangladesh after living for so long abroad in the U.S. Growing up in the U.S., he had unthinkingly taken for granted the availability of clean water, and plenty of electricity, if not always clean air. Arriving in Bangladesh, Mr. Nabeel was suddenly made aware of the fact that in much of the world, such important aspects of daily life remain out of reach for many people due to a lack of infrastructure. Always very good at math and science, Mr. Nabeel had long planned on becoming an engineer. As a student in the U.S., he had been intellectually interested in robotics and other aspects of advanced technology, his career goals merely a matter of personal choice, with no larger vision in mind. However, upon returning to Bangladesh, Mr. Nabeel was immediately struck with the desperate need for particular sorts of development, and for the sorts of engineering projects that would make such development possible. His own sense of priorities began to shift as he realized that his abilities in math and science could have a larger purpose than he had imagined while a privileged student back in the USA. He could aspire to making a difference in Bangladesh, he could aspire to playing a significant role in helping his country attain basic goods such as clean water, clean air, electricity, as well as flood control in a time of global warming and the environmental chaos it was already bringing to his country of origin. See Exhibit B, Applicant’s personal statement.

It was at that point that he began researching new sorts of engineering programs, programs that would properly equip him to contribute to the infrastructural development of his own country. Finally, he discovered the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University, with its Environmental Engineering Program, and its very specific focus on developmental and humanitarian engineering projects. He began corresponding with Dr. Jeffery Talley, as well as Professor Charles Baker. And his plans for attending SMU were born. As both Dr. Talley and Professor Baker emphasize in their letters of support, Mr. Nabeel’s training as an environmental engineer within SMU’s dynamic and cutting edge program will be a “three way win.” Exhibits C and D. SMU’s Environmental Engineering program is devoted to preparing highly motivated individuals like Mr. Nabeel for lives of service within their own country. By participating in the Lyle School of Engineering’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, Mr. Nabeel will gain the knowledge, expertise and experience, and connections within his own country to return to Bangladesh at the conclusion of his five year program, capable of making a serious contribution to developmental goals. He already has commitments from Eastern University, in Dhaka, where he will teach and do research and help develop a new Environmental Engineering program based upon his experiences in Texas at SMU. Mr. Nabeel will benefit as an individual from his student visa and his years as a student at SMU, but his country, Bangladesh, will benefit greatly as well. And the interests of the U.S., in promoting infrastructural development, along with stability and self sufficiency in Bangladesh will be promoted as well.


We hope and expect that the U.S. Consulate in Dhaka will take this opportunity to consider again Mr. Nabeel’s eligibility for a student visa, and now promptly issue Mr. Nabeel his non-immigrant student visa.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Respectfully Submitted,

Theodore N. Cox
Attorney for Petitioner

Conversation with Saad Nabeel: Part One

“While Everyone Goes to College, I Go to Jail” or How Saad Nabeel became an All-American Kid, majored in Electrical Engineering, was Thrown into Jail by the USA, deported to Bangladesh, denied Re-Entry, and Ignored by the New York Times White House Info Regime. All of This Instead of what he Really wanted, which was a Kickass Freshman Year . . .

By Greg Moses

DissidentVoice / CounterPunch

The following conversation with Saad Nabeel was stitched together from more than a hundred emails during the months of July and August, 2010.


Q: Where were you born and when did you arrive in the USA?

SAAD: I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1991. I moved to the USA in 1994, when I was three years old.

Q: And that was in California?

SAAD: Yes I moved to Los Angeles, California.

Q: Do you recall those first impressions of LA? What was it like?

SAAD: Well it was my home. That’s all I knew since I have no memory of anything earlier than LA. I loved my home.

Q: What was it about your home that you loved?

SAAD: I loved everything. Being able to play with my friends, go to school and have fun, go to all the cool places in LA with my parents. What I loved most about my home was that it was a place I knew that I was safe. It was a place I always knew would be there at the end of the day, no matter what happened.

Q: But that changed?

SAAD: Yeah it changed when I was about to graduate from the 5th grade. Immigration forced my father to choose between returning back to Bangladesh and getting persecuted by rival political groups, or moving away from California and awaiting the approval of his green card that his brother had applied to get him.

Q: And that’s when your family brought you to Texas?

SAAD: Yes, in 2002, a few weeks before graduating from elementary school.

Q: So you arrived in Texas just in time for summer. What was it like for you?

SAAD: Well I was in a place where I knew no one. I had just left my entire life behind and everyone I knew in it. Much like what it feels for me now in Bangladesh.

Q: And then you started Middle School. What was that like for you?

SAAD: I started the 6th grade in Allen, Texas. A school named Reed Elementary is where I went. Middle School began in Allen when you started 7th grade, so I was stuck in elementary for another year. Reed was interesting to say the least. Going to school in Texas is where I experienced my first taste of racism. People made racist jokes on a daily basis about me, in front of other peers.

Q: So you found it difficult to make friends at first?

SAAD: Yeah, at first. But I quickly made friends, though the racial slurs kept on at a steady pace with the kids who were strangers.

Q: So let’s talk about the friends for a minute and how your final year of elementary school ended.

SAAD: Well elementary school ended decently I’d say. I was good friends with most other students. Everyone generally liked me. After 6th grade we moved to our home in Frisco, Texas.

Q: And that’s where you stayed until college?

SAAD: Yes sir.

Q: What was it like making friends in Frisco? What was the Middle School like for you?

SAAD: It wasn’t difficult making friends in Frisco, probably because the initial shock of leaving my life behind in California had eased away. Wester Middle School was fun. Eighth grade was the best because it was easy and I knew everyone. Going to Six Flags at the end of the year with my class was also great.

Q: As you were busy growing up, how involved were you with your family’s immigration status? Given the upsetting nature of your family’s move from California, how much did it weigh on your mind that you might have to leave the United States?

SAAD: Well I was not involved. I was told it was being taken care of since we almost always had lawyers doing some sort of work for us. I didn’t have time to be involved with immigration, because I knew nothing about it. I thought I was just a regular kid like everyone else I knew. It never occurred to me that I would have to leave America since it was my home. I was told we would eventually have our green cards.

Q: So let’s talk about High School next. Did you go to the same High School as most of your Middle School friends? What interests did you develop there?

SAAD: I went to high school with all of my middle school class (at least for freshman year that is). I developed a keen interest in computers and everything about them. I learned everything I could about them. Other than that, hanging out with friends, going to the movies, going on dates were all the norm.

Q: And you started your own company at that time? Tell us about that.

SAAD: That’s when I started Easy PC (for lack of a better name). I figured “why not use my skills for a job?” I found cheap website hosting, made a site, and went around trying to advertise. Got a few flyers up in classrooms of teachers I had. Made an honest buck or two.

Q: All in all, an all-American story. Then you went off to college?

SAAD: I applied for scholarships and was pleasantly surprised to receive enough funding to get a full ride for the University of Texas at Arlington. My years of hard work in high school finally paid off.

Q: Did you move to campus housing or commute from home?

SAAD: I moved to the on-campus apartments. Centennial Court was the name.

Q: I looked it up online. Seems like a perfect place to live out your college years. What was that first month like in September 2009?

SAAD: It was awesome. For the first time in my life, I was living alone. I had great roommates and we always had awesome times together. Classes weren’t so hard since we had just begun. Everything was going right in my life.

Q: And then came the turning point? What was your first notice that things had changed for you?

SAAD: I’d say the first indication was when my parents called to say that they were going to report to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in the morning, just as they did every month, except that day, they didn’t call me to tell me how it went.

Q: Is that the infamous ICE office on Stemmons Freeway?

SAAD: Yes it’s the one on Stemmons.

Q: How were you notified that this visit to ICE had turned out so differently?

SAAD: Honestly I wasn’t aware of the implications of the situation until my father was detained, and he was detained before the date that ICE allowed him on his papers. I was honestly caught up in loads of school work.