You’ve heard about the two men who were busted for allegedly plotting to bomb the Herald Square subway station. You may not have heard that one of the men, Shahawar Matin Siraj, a 22-year-old Pakistani national living in Jackson Heights, New York, had run into problems with immigration authorities.
According to this article, Siraj was “jailed for three days in February in connection with an immigration matter.”
And according to this article, Siraj’s uncle said his nephew “would not do anything to hurt his family because the family is due in court Oct. 21 to fight a deportation proceeding.”
A deportation officer e-mailed me to say, “I am now guessing that he either entered illegally or entered as a student and violated status (by working, etc) and was placed in removal proceedings – hard to tell. Either way, he doesn’t appear to be here legally if in removal proceedings…”
It wouldn’t be the first time a Middle Eastern militant NYC bomb plotter took advantage of our catch-and-release approach to immigration enforcement. As I noted in this column,
Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian bomb-builder, entered the U.S. illegally through Canada in 1996 and 1997. He claimed political asylum based on alleged persecution by Israelis, was released on a reduced $5,000 bond posted by a man who was himself an illegal alien, and then skipped his asylum hearing after calling his attorney and lying about his whereabouts. In June 1997, after his lawyer withdrew Mezer’s asylum claim, a federal immigration judge ordered Mezer to leave the country on a “voluntary departure order.” Mezer ignored the useless piece of paper. He joined a New York City bombing plot before being arrested in July 1997 after a roommate tipped off local police.
For more on the deportation abyss, click here.
Update: Reader Juan Mann, the proprietor of www.deportaliens.com, writes: “I’ll bet you the Pakistani is applying for asylum before the EOIR Immigration Court……..If he’s an F1 student overstay, or B1/B2 visitor overstay, an asylum application is the only way to keep things tied up for a LONG TIME before the EOIR.”