Federal immigration officials in San Francisco are ignoring a June memo
from immigration authorities that deprioritizes deportation immigrants who came into the country as kids. In the most recent case, it's affecting a UC Riverside alumnus, who is fighting his case in court today.
, a 2009 UC Riverside graduate in neuroscience, was ordered Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent to wear an ankle monitor and purchase a one-way airline ticket to his native Bangladesh. Having entered the country at age four, and grown up in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, Kahn is a textbook example of an immigrant eligible for the moribund DREAM Act
-- Obama-back federal legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who attend college or serve in the military.
The Obama administration also announced in August
that the Department of Homeland Security will focus its enforcement efforts on immigrants with a criminal history, and review some 300,000 pending deportation cases, setting aside those of non-criminals.
Kahn, having moved to Daly City last week, must present the ticket to his agent at a check-in Thursday morning, at which point he'll also be filing a petition to stay in the country know as a "stay of removal." He'll argue that he fits several of the criteria that ICE Director John Morton outlined as grounds for ICE prosecutors to deprioritize deportation cases.
"The policy change said DREAM Act-eligible students and people with family in the United States who are citizens or married to U.S. citizens" should be eligible for prosecutorial discretion, Kahn told SF Weekly. "I qualify for [many of] the categories listed, yet they're going through with it."
After Kahn's hearing, lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association
will be meeting with the San Francisco's chief counsel of the Department of Homeland Security Leslie Ungerman and ICE field director Craig Meyer to discuss how the new policies are being implemented, says Kahn's Arizona-based attorney, Mo Goldman.
Immigration attorney Leah Price will also attend the meeting: "We're getting a lot of mixed messages ... the Morton memo looks golden, and says you should be applying prosecutorial discretion and when we show all these positive factors for our clients, they turn their heads and say no, we're not going to exercise prosecutorial discretion."
Kahn was arrested by immigration agents in his Inglewood home in 2009 because he and his mother had been illegally staying in the country since 1997. Kahn says the agents had come asking for his father, who had voluntarily left the country after being denied asylum in 1995, and was killed back in Bangladesh.
"I literally woke up to strange men in my bedroom," Kahn says of his arrest. Since then, he has been living under ICE supervision in Los Angeles, checking in with agents periodically while he filed a failed asylum petition, and a marriage petition after he married a U.S. citizen this year. Yet when he moved last week to Daly City and reported into the San Francisco office, they called him back for an ankle bracelet and an order to leave the country.
Kahn has been collecting letters of support to present this morning, and collecting signatures on an online petition at DREAM Activist
Kahn says, if allowed to stay in the country, he'd like to become a physician's assistant, and plans to enroll in some science classes at community college in the area. For now, he works in the kid's shoe department at a Palo Alto department store.
The ankle bracelet, "is a very weird thing to have on you. I work with kids, and so I've been wearing the same pants for the last three days so I don't scare the kids. They're my only pants that will cover the bracelet."
Kahn says he's trying not to get his hopes up, though his crime-free past, education, and marriage-based residency petition might help him out in immigration court.
"My main concern is people who aren't married and in my relatively fortunate situation. A lot of people have it way worse, and don't get the bracelet -- they get put in jail."
Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly