E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: Often people do things innnocently or hold innocous information that can cost them a lot .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, June 13, 2005

Often people do things innnocently or hold innocous information that can cost them a lot

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Immigration Law as Anti-Terrorism Tool - Yahoo! News By Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post Staff Writer Mon Jun 13, 1:00 AM ET Second of two articles

Tehseen was a Pakistani graduate student when she immigrated in 1988 after spending a childhood in poverty near the Afghan border. Over the years, she acquired the trappings of a successful American life: a PhD in toxicology, a four-bedroom house in Fairfax Station and a $90,000-a-year job at the EPA. The EPA even presented Tehseen its "Unsung Hero" award for her volunteer work overseas with Afghan refugees.

But on Feb. 2, 2004, her success story abruptly ended. Tehseen, then 46, was arrested and accused of lying on her naturalization application in 2001. The violation centered on one question: Have you ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen? No, Tehseen had checked. In fact, in 1998, she had accepted a job in EPA's pesticide division -- a position she knew was open only to U.S. citizens.

The violations would probably never have been caught, but Tehseen came under scrutiny in a terrorism-related investigation. She said the probe apparently involved an orphanage she opened in April 2003 on the Pakistani-Afghan border, using funds from a Missouri-based group, the Islamic American Relief Agency.

Off Course, there is no question about violation, one should not falsely accept job by providing false information. Sometimes, I have seen federal job listings for economist where they have not indicated citizenship requirement but I always ask the employer do you require permanent residence or citizenship. She could have applied for citizenship in national interest based on her PhD. Once she had that she could have accepted the job. However, the question is why many illegal immigrants are granted immigration even they have violated immigration laws and sought employment providing false information but professionals are treated in a manner that the judges even forget thier contribution to this country.

For the terrorism probe I would say that there are millions of Muslims living in America who would have contributed towards Muslim charities unknowingly that their money could be used for obscure purposes. Majority of Muslims do the charity in the same way as many Christians give charity through their church. During my more than seven years stay in US I have seen all these charity representatives coming to our local mosque and requesting money. They would show us documents that they are legally registered and they have been doing good work. They would ask if someone would be willing to sponsor a child for education in their home country for life? Feeling an obligation to our people back home many of us living in US would fill and sign a form and give it to charity committing support for child welfare. In theory it is exactly the same way as my American friend Cathy Bilonowsky has done. She is sponsoring a girl child in South America. Many of us did not see any harm in it. However, after Sept 11, 2001 majority of Muslim charities came under scruitny and people who have had made a contribution at any stage were condemned and labeled as sponsors of terrorism.

Wait a minute! Majority of muslims are not sponsors of terrorism.

It has become our job to start scrutinizing where our money is going but it never had been so before Sept 11, 2001 because no one believed that their money could be used for obscure purposes. It was a kind of good Muslim behavior and trust in other fellow Muslims. When you are good and doing it for good, you feel good about others as well. For many Muslims it was enough that the charity is listed with local government, registered or listed with state department to work oversees. How in the world I know what they are doing abroad. Did state department maintain a web site listing charities under suspicion prior to Sept 11, 2001? Many of the Muslims who made charitable contributions are innocent. They were just fulfilling the religious charity obligation as many Christians would do.

On the other hand as mentioned in the article by Mary Beth Sheridan of Washington post there are many other things people did innocently as a volunteer which are completely harmless or people didn’t have any knowledge of. For example, few months ago I wanted to see if a search engine will find my website I typed my name in Yahoo. Several pages came up. I started checking pages. One page was Kansas State University's (KSU) official page on which several official KSU campus committee member names were listed (Official because university set up these committees officialy and ask for nomination by different people). My name was there in something called campus religious diversity committee listed sometimes back in year 2000 probably (the page is recently updated and not found in my name search). I was surprised as I never attended any meeting of this committee or received any official communication from the committee. The only thing I remember was that someone in Muslim Student Association (MSA) asked:
--"Would you like to participate in campus activities? You will be part of campus religious committee and represent muslims in interfaith dialogue."

I am a very active, dynamic and social person.

--Interfaith dialogue! Seems like a good opportunity to have a peaceful and friendly relations with other religions. Off course! I don’t have any problem with that, I said.

However, this issue never came up again with MSA. Neither I remember filling any university nomination form nor did I hear from the committee officially. It seems like the committee never met or MSA never passed on invitations to me probably they considered me too liberal to represent Muslims (MSAs are officialy registered in many universities as student organisations which provide a platform to muslim students to unite and sometimes help to oversome cultural shock. Many of these are very open and welcoming and as a matter of fact try to raise awarness about Islam and Muslims. So far, I have not come across any obscure activites).

They only scary movie (The Siege) part is, let's say! I want to apply for permanent US resident and the forms or some document asks me about my extracurricular activities and I don’t list this activity; which off course I never knew of in official sense. An immigration officer request my university records and finds out that this person was nominated member on religious diversity committee. I would be considered lying and withholding information on my activities. However, I would consider that it is true to my knowledge that I was not part of it because I never received any official notification from campus. I volunteered for something innocous and even I was never informed about the outcome and would not consider it as part of my extracurricular activity. According to Washington post news that I have mentioned above; I mean these are the kind of incidents that current administration is pursuing and using to deport innocent people. They would not do it to any Hispanic for such circumstances but would do it to Muslims instantly.

Another thing I would say is that immedieately after Sept 11 2001 many people were withholding some otherwise innocous information just becasue administration was peronoid about Muslims. Everyone of us had percieved the Hollywood movie The Siege scenario in which Muslims are held in a camp in NY ready to be deported. It is recently that fears have started to assuage and people have started feeling free to talk about these things as ACLU have started taking up these cases. I mean that if you have not done anything wrong on your part then be honest about the information and I hope things will go fine with you.

The article further discusses that Waheeda Tehseen was offered a deal which she declined. It seems that US Government is also exploiting such cases for their own use in Hollywood style. Apparently from the news article it seems that she has been asked to work as an agent. I guess because she is working as a high professional on environmental projects in Pakistan so they would have assumed that she would have lot of access to gross root level local NGOs and people in her area: the NWFP on Pak-Afghan border.

The article says : "Federal officials declined to comment on that investigation, saying the information is classified. An official close to the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that a deal was discussed but provided no details.

Tehseen declined the offer because, she said, "I'm not an FBI person who can go and sneak in and find out who's right and wrong." She was deported last August and is working on environmental projects in Pakistan."

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