In Immigration Prison For Life

Two countries will take the man, but he stays locked up because no country will take him

Bizarre U.S. legal rulings impose pointless and costly suffering on man ready, willing and able to leave

Mohd Mahmoud Forced To Flee Lebanon

Mohd Mahmoud was born in Lebanon. But that does not make him a Lebanese citizen. As a Palestinian Muslim, he is not eligible for Lebanese citizenship.

During the Lebanese civil war, Mohd made the mistake of showing compassion for another human being in a desparate situation. He dedicated himself to helping the injured and the hungry. While everyone carried the gun, he carried the milk and bread to hungry families trapped in the zone of flying bullets. His courage in that field was remarkable.

His life changed abruptly when he nursed and helped an injured Christian man trapped in the Muslim sector of West Beirut. As a Palestinian Muslim, his act of a good deed was labeled as treason, and he was marked for death. Unable to remain in either the Muslim or the Christian sectors, he had no choice but to escape with his life from his own war torn country.

Hiding in a commercial ship, he managed to reach the shores of America in 1978 at the age of 17. He entered the United States at New York and settled in San Diego, California. Struggling with the language and culture, he did pretty well for himself, and in no time he became very Americanized. He enjoyed the liberty and democracy of America, which met with his views of freedom and human rights. Nevertheless, he stayed pretty much to himself and worked hard as an auto mechanic.

Mohd gets in trouble

In 1990 Mr. Mahmoud was charged in a drug case. He claims the charges are false. He was offered 18 months, and refused because he was not guilty. He then got 7 years, which he served.

Despite these downfalls that he had to endure, he still did the best he could in an environment that is less than positive to make his time, while incarcerated, as productive as possible. He devoted himself to education and reached high achievements. From his first day in prison, he studied and took courses in Spanish, typing, computers, and word processing. He obtained his GED, finished a complete course in building trades, and was even awarded the honor of "Student of the Quarter" for a concentrated blueprint and drafting course. Then, through a special program with an Oregon Community College, he was able to earn over 54 credits, with a GPA of 4.0, and achieve a previous goal that he had set to receive his college degree in Social Science. He received many certificates in various courses including a certificate in paralegal. Then with the help of his correctional counselor, he founded a drug awareness and rehabilitation program in the federal detention center. His devotion as a volunteer tutor for this program has helped a lot of inmates to deter from the behavior that led to their conviction. Because of this he was awarded many Certificates of Recognition for his work and remarkable efforts in this program.

Immigration takes over; due process suspended

Mr.Mahmoud completed his sentence in 1996, but his misery and troubles were just beginning. Instead of being released he was immediately taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to be deported back to Lebanon. However, his country of birth, Lebanon, refused to accept him back because of his nationality as a Palestinian refugee, which prevents him from ever becoming a citizen of Lebanon.

Any person born in the United States is a U.S. citizen, under the U.S. Constitution. In a world in which there are nations, it is inherent that the people born in a place are citizens of that place. But many countries reserve to themselves the right to de-citizenize racial minorities who by right and logic are citizens of that country. Lebanon is not the only offender. For example, in Japan, there are people of Korean descent whose families have lived in Japan for generations, yet are not Japanese citizens.

Besides requesting travel documents from Lebanon, the INS has not made any efforts to find him a country or even to deport him. In situations like this, when Mohd and other immigrants like him are unable to be deported by the INS, they are simply detained indefinitely in U.S. prisons. That means forever. Life in prison.

Unlike some other illegal aliens, Mohd was never even afforded a hearing in front of an immigration judge or even a bond hearing. His order of deportation was entered by the INS district director without a hearing. Mohd petitioned the federal court to rule that he should be afforded a bond hearing before a neutral decision maker, such as the immigration judge, to make a determination if he is fit to be released. This was to be another painful experience with the judicial and legal system. Once again the United States Supreme Court shut him down.

Mohd finds a place to go, loses anyway

In the face of INS inaction, and willingness to let him rot in prison for life, Mr.Mahmoud decided to do the job for the INS and effect his own deportation. In a two year period, he wrote to 25 countries around the world, which all denied him. The International Red Cross provided their assistance and informed the INS that they will provide travel documents if a country is found to accept Mohd. Upon the suggestion of the INS, Mohd obtained an international passport issued to stateless people under the United Nations protocol. The World Service Authority passport is recognized by 175 countries and has been used in the past. Mohd was able to obtain, with his passport, an entry visa to Togo, Africa and to Venezuela. However, the INS will not allow him to leave the United States unless those countries accept Mohd as a permanent resident or a citizen, which is impossible to happen while incarcerated.

After Mohd had finished serving his 7-year prison term, the INS transferred him to (what was supposed to be) a very temporary holding facility. Now, 3-years later, he is being held in a southern Louisiana county jail, which is locked down 24 hours a day with the most dangerous criminals and under cruel and inhuman conditions. He is being denied access to legal materials and law books, and meaningful telephone communication is just about impossible. Under these circumstances, his efforts to find a country to accept him or to secure his release are being severely curtailed. Thus he remains detained indefinitely at the expense of the American taxpayers.

Mr.Mahmoud has been in detention for three years, even though this was supposed to be just long enough till he could be sent home. This time period is after he had already completed his 7-year prison sentence, and currently there is no indication that the INS has any plans to release him. He lost his family in the Lebanese civil war, and he has no one to help him. His only support comes from friends in the community and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. This catholic organization represents him before the INS and provides support to his cause of obtaining freedom. His only reason of not starving himself to death is his hope that one day he might be able to see his mother again, that he has not seen in over 21 years.

Thanks to a kind heart in the community, he has had an email account secured for him, so if you would like to contact him, you can either email him at: (this account is checked daily for him) or you may contact his attorney, Ms. Alicia Triche of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, at 217 East Fifth Avenue, Oakdale, Louisiana 71463. You may also contact Mohd directly at his prison address listed below. Mohd Mahmoud has already paid his debt to society, and then some! He has now become a forgotten man without a country. Let us not let this injustice go on any longer.

Please write to voice your support. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Mohd Mahmoud
Iberia Parish Jail
3618 Broken Arrow Road
New Iberia, LA 70560

Please visit Mohd's website.

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