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December 2003 • Vol 3, No. 11 •

Palestinian Militant Continues to Face Deportation

USCIS Kangaroo Court Presses Amer Jubran

Amer Jubran speaking at the October 25, 2003 demonstration in San Francisco, California protesting the occupations of Palestine and Iraq.

When FBI and USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the INS) agents forced their way into Amer Jubran’s home in November of 2002, they tried to question him about his legal political activities and then threatened him with “indefinite detention” if he refused to “cooperate.” Jubran took a principled stand: he insisted on his right to counsel, and refused to speak without his lawyer present. For this refusal to waive his rights the INS jailed him, initially without charges, and later—when public outcry made it difficult to continue holding him—initiated deportation proceedings against him.

The entire history of those proceedings has been a catalogue of abuses of police power and judicial authority. Initial charges were clearly invented at the last minute in order to suit the sudden need for some kind of pretext for the arrest. These charges were later changed as it became clear that they would not satisfy the judge’s need to present the public with at least an appearance of sufficient cause. The government prosecutor failed to submit evidence or witnesses for its newly invented case of marriage fraud, and defied (without penalty) even the minimum standards of fair disclosure under court rules. Instead, FBI and INS agents tried to intimidate Amer’s witness pool, and the government relied on this strategy until the date of the trial.

Jubran’s main witness did testify at the July 26 hearing, which was supposed to be decisive. The government prosecutor spent three hours examining her on matters irrelevant to the case, and then asked for and was granted a last minute continuance.

One week before the November 6th trial, the government prosecutor unexpectedly handed Jubran’s lawyer a 50 page request for submissions for witnesses and evidence, allowing Jubran and his lawyer wholly insufficient time to prepare for the final hearing. Obviously the prosecutor had been conducted an ongoing, secret investigation into every nook and cranny of Jubran and his friends’ lives, and that this was the purpose of the 10 month delay the government had secured.

During the July 24 proceedings, the prosecutor had repeatedly asked speculative and oblique questions with no clear connection to the case. Jubran’s lawyer had repeatedly objected, but the judge would overrule him with such words as, “I don’t see the relevance either, but I’ll allow the government broad latitude.” Every line of illegitimate questioning during the proceedings became grounds to investigate people not at all involved in the case but whose own status made them vulnerable to government harassment. The prosecution had used the 10 months to sniff about, question and harass perfectly ordinary, innocent people.

Jubran looked at these new documents and recognized that the government was using the deportation proceedings to continue the fishing expedition it had begun at the time of his arrest. Jubran made it clear to his lawyer that this was a fight for political rights and he had no intention of taking the stand and giving testimony that the government might then use against other people who were vulnerable. His lawyer insisted to the contrary, saying “Do you want to win your case, or do you want to protect other people?” He thought that the best strategy would be to question Jubran on the stand, which was exactly what Jubran objected to.

Jubran asked him to seek a continuance in order to consider other strategies. Jubran was adamant in his refusal to cooperate with the government’s attempted use of the immigration proceedings for the harassment and repression of immigrants expressing their political views.

Judge abandons the appearance of ‘due process’

On the day before the November 6 trial, Jubran received word that the judge had denied the continuance (despite granting two prior continuances to the government prosecutor on trivial grounds) He also learned that his lawyer had made a deal with the judge and prosecutor that would have required Jubran to take the stand on November 6th, and had then given the prosecutor another three or four months for a follow-up investigation. His lawyer had made this arrangement without consulting Jubran, in direct violation of an agreement that he would make no such arrangements without Jubran’s consent.

On November 6th, Jubran reiterated his request for a continuance, which the judge again denied. Jubran then made it clear that he did not have faith in his counsel and requested time to seek new counsel. The judge insisted that if he fired his counsel he would have to take the stand without counsel, and if need be he, the judge, would conduct direct questioning. Jubran insisted that he lacked the expertise to represent himself. The judge insisted that the trial go forward that day whether Jubran had counsel or not.

It had been revealed in rapid succession that none of the ordinary protections applied to him: his own counsel was no longer following his wishes, and the judge had abandoned even the appearance of a commitment to due process. It was also clear that the judge had facilitated the government strategy at every stage—permitting illegitimate questions of Jubran’s witness, accepting government evidence and witnesses beyond a reasonable deadline, and permitting the government to prolong its investigation through two long continuances based on false pretexts. It was under these circumstances that Jubran then told the judge, “If there is no justice for me here in the United States, I will take ‘voluntary departure.’”

As soon as Jubran asked for voluntary departure, the judge began to plead with him to testify and to continue with the proceedings. He said that Jubran had been “ahead on points” when the first part of the trial had concluded, and that the latest government submissions of evidence had done nothing to weaken Jubran’s case. He tried to persuade Jubran that he was likely to win his case if he would only proceed with it. Then the judge threatened to imposed a “no appeal” condition if Jubran chose to end the proceedings by accepting “voluntary departure.”

The judge’s statements show a deep complicity with the government’s strategy with his failure to bring the matter to a timely conclusion at the end of the last hearing and his denial of due process. The outcome of the purported immigration trial had become immaterial; the court was now facilitating an investigation with no legitimate legal goal and with no apparent end.

Jubran’s legal battle has not been solely about staying in the United States. It is more important, he believes, to expose this “routine immigration proceeding” for what it has been all along, an attempt by the U.S. government to silence voices for Palestine and dissent against the wars of our government, waged both openly and silently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine. The legal struggle is a defense of the rights of immigrants to free speech, political expression and to organize. On November 6th, Jubran refused to allow federal gumshoes to use his case as an excuse to intimidate those who speak up.

We fully support Jubran’s decision to put an end to this chapter. We support his demand for redress from the government for its violations of his fundamental rights, for his arrest and detention, and for the police surveillance of his political activities over the last three years in the course of his year-long immigration trial before a kangaroo court. The Amer Jubran Defense Committee has indicated that it will pursue justice through other legal venues.

—Socialist Viewpoint





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