In Dallas Obama will Find Fresh Memories of Deported Student

What the New York Times forgot to mention

by Greg Moses

OpEdNews / TheRagBlog / CounterPunch

While the New York Times Monday morning proclaims that the Obama administration is not deporting college students whose parents brought them to America at a young age, the President is headed toward a fundraiser in Dallas Monday night where one such case is well known.

Dallas real estate developer and immigrant rights advocate Ralph Isenberg bought tickets to the fundraiser with President Barack Obama so that he can plead for the speedy return of a young deportee from Texas. Isenberg has been working for several months to secure the return of 19-year-old Saad Nabeel who was deported to Bangladesh with his parents in early 2010.

If the New York Times is correct about what the Obama administration is trying to do, then the deportation of Saad Nabeel was a big mistake. He had lived in the USA since age three, completing grades six through twelve in Texas. When he was deported at age 18, Nabeel was studying electrical engineering on full scholarship at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“I plan to tell the President that if he is looking for a poster child for someone who has been unfairly treated and who we need to do right by, then Saad Nabeel is perfect,” said Isenberg Saturday in a telephone interview with the Texas Civil Rights Review.

“There are multiple legal issues that we can pursue to try to get Saad back in the country,” said Isenberg. “But the quickest solution by far would be to pass a DREAM Act that includes an amendment for young persons who have been recently deported. Other legal issues would require lengthy legal actions–and the wait would do no good to Saad.”

If adopted by Congress and signed by the President, the DREAM Act would offer citizenship options to youth who were brought to the USA by migrant parents. When Isenberg approaches the President in Nabeel’s behalf, he will also be representing the opinions of Saad’s young friends who are this week preparing their returns to college life.

“I feel like everything that has happened in the past year was unnecessary,” explains Chris Anderson, one of Nabeel’s high school friends contacted by the Texas Civil Rights Review. “Saad was brought to America by his family when he was a young child. He lived like every other American by going to school, getting a job, and spending time with his friends and family. Everything that he knew and loved was in the United States, and one day he was just uprooted from college, thrown in jail for over a month, and shipped to a foreign third world country that he has no memory of.”

Nabeel’s case has attracted media attention in Dallas and the German magazine Der Spiegel. Other international media have shown interest in the case. Isenberg agrees with Der Spiegel that Nabeel’s campaign to return to the USA has been helped by the young man’s fluency with computer skills.

Keeping tabs on news via computer in Bangladesh, Nabeel saw Monday’s New York Times report as soon as it hit his inbox as the morning’s top story. When asked via email what he would like to say to the President during Monday’s visit to Texas, Nabeel replied within two minutes:

“I love America and would die for my country in a heartbeat. It is the only home that I know.”

“Saad’s case is really rather compelling,” said Isenberg over the weekend. “Given the discretion that is available to immigration authorities, this thing could have so easily gone the other way. My hope is that the most powerful man in the world will at least take a brief interest.”

Dallas Donor Plans to Discuss Deportee Case with Obama

by Greg Moses

OpEdNews

Dallas real estate developer and immigrant rights advocate Ralph Isenberg bought tickets to a Monday night fundraiser with President Barack Obama so that he can plead the case of a young deportee from Texas.

Isenberg has been working for several months to secure the return of 19-year-old Saad Nabeel who was deported to Bangladesh with his parents in late 2009. The younger Nabeel had lived in the USA since age three, completing grades six through twelve in Texas. When he was deported at age 18, Nabeel was studying electrical engineering on full scholarship at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“I plan to tell the President that if he is looking for a poster child for someone who has been unfairly treated and who we need to do right by, then Saad Nabeel is perfect,” said Isenberg Saturday in a telephone interview with the Texas Civil Rights Review.

“There are multiple legal issues that we can pursue to try to get Saad back in the country,” said Isenberg. “But the quickest solution by far would be to pass a DREAM Act that includes an amendment for young persons who have been recently deported. Other legal issues would require lengthy legal actions–and the wait would do no good to Saad.”

If adopted by Congress and signed by the President, the DREAM Act would offer citizenship options to youth who were brought to the USA by migrant parents. When Isenberg approaches the President in Nabeel’s behalf, he will also be representing the opinions of Saad’s young friends who are this week preparing their returns to college life.

“I feel like everything that has happened in the past year was unnecessary,” explains Chris Anderson, one of Nabeel’s high school friends contacted by the Texas Civil Rights Review. “Saad was brought to America by his family when he was a young child. He lived like every other American by going to school, getting a job, and spending time with his friends and family. Everything that he knew and loved was in the United States, and one day he was just uprooted from college, thrown in jail for over a month, and shipped to a foreign third world country that he has no memory of.”

Nabeel’s case has attracted media attention in Dallas and in the German magazine Der Spiegel. Other international media have shown interest in the case. Isenberg agrees with Der Spiegel that Nabeel’s campaign to return to the USA has been helped by the young man’s fluency with computer skills.

“Saad’s case is really rather compelling,” says Isenberg. “Given the discretion that is available to immigration authorities, this thing could have so easily gone the other way. My hope is that the most powerful man in the world will at least take a brief interest.”

Demanding Dignity, Not Detention at Hutto Detention Center Vigil

Taylor, TX – On Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 7 p.m., friends and advocates of the women detained at the T. Don Hutto Center will hold a vigil at 1001 Welch in Taylor. The vigil is part of a statewide opposition to the growth of detention centers in Texas. The vigil, organized by Texans United for Families, Grassroots Leadership, and other community members, marks the one-year anniversary of ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton’s announced plans for a major overhaul of the agency’s immigration detention system. Nevertheless, little has changed to date.

Last August, in response to sharp criticism from advocacy groups, community organizations, and government officials, Morton promised sweeping changes aimed at improving detention conditions for the nearly 400,000 immigrants held in the custody of ICE each year. According to Morton, the agency intended to take substantial steps to transform the sprawling network of approximately 350 jails and prisons into a non-penal “civil detention system.”

As part of its reform effort, ICE discontinued the detention of families and children at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas. The Hutto facility received national attention in 2007 when it became the target of protests and lawsuits brought on behalf of 26 immigrant children detained with their parents at the facility as a result of the substandard conditions.

Today, ICE uses the Hutto facility, which is privately owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), to detain women. Hutto came under scrutiny again this year when ICE announced its investigation of a pattern of sexual assaults by a CCA guard.

“A year ago, we were heartened that the Obama administration ended family detention at Hutto and took on reforming the broader immigration detention system,” said Rocío Villalobos, a member of Texans United for Families. “Today, the majority of women at Hutto are seeking refuge from violence in their home countries. This spring’s sexual assault incidents show how detention subjects people to more violence which deepens their trauma, rather than protects them from it.”

Sexual abuse has been an ongoing problem in detention facilities in Texas. In 2007, CCA fired a guard for initiating sexual contact with a mother detained with her family at Hutto. In 2008, the WOAI news station in San Antonio reported sexual abuse of women detained at the GEO Group’s South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall. Earlier this year, a former Port Isabel Detention Center officer was sentenced to prison for abusing detained women at the south Texas detention center. Reports of sexual abuse against females in detention have also plagued MTC’s (Management & Training Corporation) Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville, TX.

The sexual assault incidents also seriously call into question ICE’s heralding of Hutto as a model detention facility. “Building more detention centers won’t solve this problem,” said Lauren Martin of Grassroots Leadership. “ICE must transform its system towards one that prioritizes release over detention. That is the only way to ensure these tragedies do not continue.”

Texas Deportee Featured by Der Spiegel

One year ago, Frisco, Texas high school graduate Saad Nabeel was getting ready to go off to college at the University of Texas at Arlington where he had been awarded a full scholarship. Although he had been born in Bangladesh, he had been living the USA since the age of three, and had attended Texas schools for grades six through twelve. When his father was deported by US immigration authorities in Nov. 2009, Saad’s life suddenly changed for the worst. Now he is using the computer skills that he learned in Texas to campaign for a return to the country that he has always called home.

Saad, a thin, frustrated 19-year-old boy with a Beatle haircut, is sitting on the bed. He is waiting for the electricity to come on again after yet another power failure, so that he can start up his laptop and get back on the Internet. It’s his connection to the United States and his old life — a life that was significantly better than his current life in Bangladesh. — 08/05/2010 “The YouTube Weapon: One Man’s Virtual Fight against Deportation” By Uwe Buse, Der Spiegel

Thanks to a tip from longtime friend Ralph Isenberg of Dallas, the Texas Civil Rights Review has been in contact with Saad for several months. Saad helped your editor complete his first Skype call from Texas to Bangladesh. And we are planning more coverage of his case in the future. Stay tuned. And don’t forget to check out the Facebook page for Saad’s friends.–gm