Speak Up for Hassan Abouakil
Is the US Immigration breaching Human Rights?
By Driss R. Temsamani
Where were you on Friday June the 26th at 5:00 AM in the morning? Like most of us, probably enjoying your sleep in the comfort of your home. Maybe alone or with your loved ones.
As peaceful as the early hours of the morning can be, a time for meditation, prayer and rest, so can be the harsh awakening of a forced entry by strange man who come inside your home and take you away while your wife and children are crying and begging for mercy.
It may sound like a scrip from a horrible drama, but as hard as it is to believe this is the true story of a friend of many, an activist who has been part of our Moroccan American community fabric for the last 10 years.
This is a 5 days old story of Hassan Abouakil, a journalist who many have come to know as an outspoken individual who wrote with an independent pen.
On Friday June 26th, 2009, Agents of ICE, the United States Immigration police broke into Hassan’s home while he was sleeping with his wife and four children. As in a case of hunt and capture, Hassan was taking away from his home while his family weeped. His crime; Immigration officials detaining and deporting immigrants at random, no questions asked.
Hassan is not the first or the last person to fall in the unforgiving hands of ICE. Many Moroccans have gone silent for months, years and no one has the right to ask, question or land a hand.
The situation is so bad that an unpublished study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, in 2006 identified 125 people in immigration detention centers across the nation who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.
Thanks to President Bush’s curse on immigration, the laws have become lawless and our friend Hassan is the latest victim to pay the price.
What is even stranger about Hassan’s story is that he volunteered to go to immigration and give all his information. While he was waiting for hi paperwork, Hassan asked immigration if it would be better for him to leave the country and they told him to stay. Now Hassan is behind bars with no access to justice and his family is on his footsteps.
Rachel Rosenbloom, an attorney at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College who's identified at least seven U.S. citizens whom ICE has mistakenly deported since 2000, believes that the agency should set up a more formal way of handling detainees when they appear to have valid claims of U.S. citizenship. At the very least, she said, ICE could release people on bond while waiting for immigration judges to hear the cases.
"It's like finding innocent people on death row," Rosenbloom said. "There may be only a small number of cases, but when you find them you want to do everything in your power to make sure they get out."
Every now and then life puts all of us on notice. We get a final call to act as if we are being warned; you are next!
While Hassan and his family will face the harsh reality of separation, jail and mental torture, we, the Moroccan American community can either speak-up or wait our turn for injustice.
The time is now for us to speak-up. If our words, phone calls, faxes, protests don’t reach Hassan, then they will stand witness on the walls of time that the community did not standstill and watch a dear friend stand trial alone.
Join us and speak-up. Read more about Hassan’s case at www.washingtonmoroccanclub.org
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