Deported Pakistanis: Illegal Immigrants

The New York Times has a story on some Pakistanis who were deported after September 11. All of them were illegal immigrants, so they do not get any sympathy from me for their plight. In my opinion, an illegal immigrant should face the consequences of his action including deportation. For this story, INS and the Department of Justice did not comment on the individual cases, so all the information is from the Pakistanis, which definitely makes me wonder how much to believe. Anyway, here are some bizarre excerpts from the article:

Government officials later told Mr. Mehmood’s lawyer that F.B.I. agents who searched his home had found a license to carry hazardous materials, box cutters, a flight simulator program and three Pakistani passports in his name. But neither he nor any of the other men were charged with terror-related offenses.

Mr. Mehmood said he had explanations. His trucking company required him to have the hazardous materials license, he said. He used the box cutters on the job, he said. The flight simulator program was used by his children, and two of the passports were expired, and one was valid, he said.

I don’t know about licenses for hazardous materials, so I’ll leave that alone. But what do they mean by boxcutters? Did he have two boxcutters? Or a hundred? Is it illegal to have a few boxcutters in your home? What exactly is a flight simulator program? Do they mean something like Microsoft Flight Simulator or Falcon IV (which I absolutely love despite sucking at it)? And if they found three different valid passports, why wasn’t he prosecuted for that? However, if his explanation for the passports is correct, then that’s nothing usual and shouldn’t have been mentioned. I am more confused as I think about this. Hearing the other side (INS) would definitely help.

This got my blood boiling:

All scoffed at the notion that their detention produced valuable intelligence. They described undergoing only cursory interviews by F.B.I. or I.N.S. agents: Do you like Osama bin Laden? Can you fly a plane? Do you pray five times a day? [emphasis mine]

Did the FBI really ask this? How dare they? If I had been asked this or similar questions when I was interviewed by the FBI, I would have told them to fuck off (who am I kidding? I would probably have said “none of your business.”) Here again, we have heard only from illegal immigrants who were deported and have a vested interest in trying to look good. However, I would still like an explanation from the FBI or the department of Justice stating what kind of questions were asked of these persons and all the others who have been interviewed. I would also like all the people who were asked about their religious beliefs and practice to come forward so that we can find out the truth.

UPDATE here.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. I have also heard that people are being asked about how often they pray. I belong to an email discussion group for Muslim lawyers and others in the legal field and several people have said that their clients reported being asked this question. I can dig up the messages from the archives and forward them if you want.

    Is praying five times a day a signal of religious extremism to them or something. Uh oh, I guess I’m an extremist and I never realized it.

  2. I have talked to all of my friends who have been interviewed and no one was asked anything about religion. That’s a very small sample though.

    Al-Muhajabah, I would appreciate it if you could either post those messages yourself or email them to me.

  3. Zack, I sent you a preliminary email but the rest will have to wait until the weekend as I am very busy with an exam and a writing project due this week.

    The feeling I get from the various things I’ve read is that the experience with the FBI depends greatly on where you are. According to an article in a Pittsburgh newspaper (I sent you the link, Zack), there has been a lot of it there.

    There was a message from the discussion group yesterday talking about experiences in Dallas and they weren’t asked any questions like that.

    I don’t think this is widespread, but I do think that it’s occurring, and it shouldn’t be.

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