Immigration Tales

I have ranted about USCIS on this weblog a number of times. Today, we bring you stories of the stupidity of immigration authorities around the world.

Let’s start with the United States. Via Head Heeb comes the story of poor Jimmy Mote, a native of the Marshall Islands. Under the Compact of Free Association between Marshall Islands and the US, a Marshallese person can live and work in the US as a non-immigrant. But apparently American law enforcement hadn’t heard of it.

A Marshallese man was recently released on home-monitoring following seven months of detention at a Minnesota lock-up. He is waiting for the Court to make a decision on whether or not he will be released from custody. He was arrested and detained in error.

Jimmy Mote, a thirty-three old from Majuro, Marshall Islands, came to the United States legally twelve years ago with non-immigrant status, but when he went to apply for an ID card renewal, he was detained by police. Someone working in the government office there found some information on the computer, which has since been proved an error, and had him arrested. According to Mr. Mote, a policeman told him that he looked like a terrorist. ” No one seemed to know where the Marshall Islands is,” he said.

One day, December 2003, Jimmy went to Bismarck, North Dakota to renew his I.D. That’s when the trouble began.

[…]After being taken into custody by six or seven state patrolmen in Bismarck, Mote was whisked up to Bottineau, where he was held for a week. All the time, he was trying to tell them that he had a right to be there. He also had an unexpired passport, issued on April 17, 1998, which under the Compact law, is the only documentation a Marshall Islands citizen needs to enter the United States.

Mr. Mote was taken down to Chaska, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, where he was held in jail until his recent release.

There is some more detail and an update here. Jimmy Mote’s case with the immigration court is ongoing.

Mote is required to report back to the INS office in Minnesota at 3:00 pm on Friday, August. 20. If he can pay bail of $1500, he can await the December hearing in North Dakota.

[…] Reportedly, it was a criminal charge from ten years ago that “red-flagged” the case to immigration authorities and has impacted the current proceedings.

This old criminal charge might trigger the 1996 immigration law regarding deportation. I read somewhere on the Yokwe forums that Mote’s criminal charge was a result of a $10 bad check and did not qualify for the moral turpitude clause of the 1996 law.

From the US, we move to the United Kingdom (hat tip: Perverse Access Memory) for the case of Steve Purcell, a British citizen, and his American wife, Lia. Here is their story in their own words.

We married in England at the beginning of this year, and through the tiring course of Lia’s pregnancy we have tried to get permission for Lia to remain in the UK indefinitely. We thought that we might need to leave the country to apply for a settlement visa for Lia, but in a phone call the Home Office advised us that we could apply from within the UK since Lia had been advised not to fly during her pregnancy. When we made our application, however, it was rejected because it was made in-country.

By the time our application was rejected, it was too late in Lia’s pregnancy for her to travel abroad, but her existing visa was due to expire when Grace would be only 8 weeks old. In the light of this uncertainty we could neither plan to remain in the UK nor prepare to leave.

[…] Despite its original advice, the current position of the Home Office as relayed to us by the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration is that we have not followed the rules, and that “Mrs. Purcell should make arrangements to leave the country in August and apply for an entry clearance as a spouse. If this is granted, Mrs. Purcell may then apply for two years further leave to remain and seek indefinite leave to remain at the end of the probationary period.”

On to Pakistan for a tale of love and bureaucracy. Aman Khan Hoti and Divya Dayanan met while studying in the Ukraine. They fell in love and got married last year in Pakistan after Divya converted to Islam and adopted the name “Hafsa”. The now Dr. Hafsa Aman applied for naturalization in Pakistan, but her application was refused. The couple have now filed a lawsuit in the Peshawar High Court.

The Pakistan government has declined citizenship to Indian national Dr Hafsa Aman after security agencies did not give necessary clearance, an Interior Division official has said.

A section officer of the Division, Jawed Habib, who was ordered to file comments by the Peshawar High Court on a writ petition filed by Aman Khan, Dr Hafsa’s husband, said that granting citizenship to an applicant was subject to clearance by security agencies.

The officer, in his brief comments, stated that Dr Hafsa’s case was being reprocessed and she had been given a two-month extension on her stay permit.

The high court stayed the deportation of Dr Hafsa and sought comments from respondents

[…] Habib conceded that under Section 10(2) a foreigner wife of a Pakistani man was entitled to Pakistani citizenship, but that was subject to clearance by security agencies.

Advocate Usman Khan Tarlandi, the petitioner’s counsel, stated that the section officer had been misinterpreting the law. He added that there was no provision in the Citizenship Act that granting of the citizenship would be subject to clearance from security agencies.

Aman and Hafsa had a baby recently.

Indian citizen Dr Hafsa Aman has said she is hopeful that the birth of her son in Pakistan will strengthen her case for acquiring Pakistani citizenship.

The young lady gave birth to a baby boy in a private hospital in Mardan on Tuesday. Her husband, Aman Khan, belongs to Mardan. They were married in Karachi on July 16, 2003 after her conversion to Islam. The two had met in Ukraine where they had gone to study medicine.

It seems like the only reason she was not granted citizenship is that she is Indian. Hopefully, the high court will rectify the situation for them.

I don’t understand why there should be any problems with the naturalization of spouses and minor children. These are, by far, the most important relationships of any person. The immigration process for them should be simple and without any hurdles.

Via Foreign Dispatches, we come back to the US with a story of The Uncivil Litigator who sued the INS on behalf of his wife whose immigration petition had been bungled by the INS.

UPDATE: Pakistan has finally granted citizenship to Hafsa Aman.

By Zack

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


  1. I have read the citizenship act. There is no such clause to stop non-Pakistani wife of a Pakistani from becoming Pakistani. There are hunreds of such cases many of such wifes roaming about in Islamabad. The only reason in case of Hafsa Aman appears to be personal view of an official of ministry of interior and our officials will fight to the day of judgement to prove that they were right though actually wrong.

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