Mindless hate or mere idiocy: US immigration vs Edhi

Abdussattar Edhi helps the destitute, children, women, victims of natural disasters – and even the dead, by providing burials. In a country where need is high and government infrastructure for such work is desperately lacking, Edhi helps those whom no one helps. He takes nothing as a salary and lives very simply. He is an example where politicians provide nothing but food for cynicism.

And this is the man who was detained for 8 hours by US Immigration officials. They confiscated his green card and his passport.
They asked him why he dresses the way he does (no, he does not wear Western clothing, and yes, he wears a Pakistani outfit. Since when is that a crime?) They asked him why he doesn’t live in the US even though he has a green card (he is a social worker: he is needed in Pakistan. Would they prefer him to permanently vacation at Disneyland?)

This man is no politician. He saves lives. At this time of desperate need in Pakistan, he should be more mobile than before. This man deserves recognition and assistance. So why are US authorities hindering and humiliating him? Do they need to send more messages of mindless hate to the Muslim world? Do they need to provide more fodder for hate?

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13 Replies to “Mindless hate or mere idiocy: US immigration vs Edhi”

  1. The stupidity is shared by Edhi and US immigration. They shouldn’t have asked about his dress etc. But Edhi is committing immigration fraud by using the green card for visa-free visits to the US. The green card requires its holder to maintain permanent residence in the US. There is no social service or great man exception to that law.

  2. I don’t know if Zack’s comment is true, If so, of course, no one should be engaging in visa fraud.

    Considering how much Edhi travels back and forth I’m sure he could easily rack up 6 months of residency in each calendar year.

    My initial reaction when I read this yesterday was anger and sadness. Coming up on SEVEN years since 9/11 and immigration still hasn’t figured out a more nuanced perspective than “deport men with beards” or names like “Ali Hassan” (the ‘John Smith’ of the Muslim world)?

    A year or so is understandable. Seven years is sheer arrogance and delight in one’s ignorance.

    The sadness came from people being manhandled and humiliated this way.

  3. Let me elaborate. First the Daily Times:

    Edhi told Geo News that US immigration officials had questioned him for eight hours at the airport. “They asked me why I don’t reside permanently in the US despite having a green card,” he said. “I told them that I’m a social worker and I have to travel extensively around the world, and so cannot live there permanently,” he added.

  4. The USCIS site says:

    Maintaining Permanent Residence: You may lose your permanent residence status if you commit an act that makes you removable from the United States under the law in section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you commit such an act, you may be brought before the immigration courts to determine your right to remain a Permanent Resident.

    You may be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:

    * Move to another country intending to live there permanently.
    * Remain outside of the US for more than one year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the US may be considered, even if it is less than one year.
    * Remain outside of the US for more than two years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa. However in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the US may be considered, even if it is less than one year.
    * Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the US for any period.
    * Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns.

  5. According to reports, Edhi came to the US on Jan 8/9. His last visit before that was in mid-2007. That doesn’t satisfy the requirement of keeping a permanent residence here at all. Frequent visits do NOT equal establishing residence and permanent residence does NOT mean one can’t travel abroad. It certainly looks to this amateur immigration observer that Edhi’s conduct would have aroused suspicion and his green card might be revoked.

    The news items are mentioning an immigration court hearing on Feb 20 for Edhi. Please do note that Edhi is getting a lot more leeway in all this affair than a regular Joe from Pakistan with a green card would have.

    I shouldn’t have used the word “fraud” however and would like to take that back.

  6. Actually, I think Edhi is at fault.

    With Green Card, he is suppose to show that he intends to live “permanently” in USA.

    Its easy to jump on immigration but they just followed the rule.

    I am sorry, we need to be fair !!

    First of all, why Edhi needs green card ? It is so obvious, he is looking for easy way in USA without visa.

  7. At first, when I read this article I thought “here we go again”. Then, upon further examination, I stumbled upon the green card comment.

    A green card (like the PR card in Canada) is to be used by aliens intending to reside in US permanently (and later switched for citizenship). It is NOT a multiple entry visa.

    And confiscating the passport is standard procedure when immigration officials feel someone is abusing the Green card (or PR card in Canada). They can’t prevent you entry (sine you ARE a resident) but they can take your passport and you have to see a judge to get it back (and justify why you should be allowed to maintain your residency).

  8. Rules is rules is not an excuse I buy in this instance. This guy does an important humanitarian job and you can bet your bottom whatever that the authorities would have found it in their brains to be more flexible if this guy had been white and non-Muslim.

    Reading about his, I’d be ashamed if I was American. Stop making excuses and start behaving with a modicum of humanity and common sense for a change!

  9. Sorry to those who say rules are rules, but this is ridiculous. The simple fact is that CBP’s decision to begin the process of revoking his green card was a DISCRETIONARY one. We can talk all we want about 6 months etc. but as an immigration lawyer I can state with painful clarity that this was a discretionary decision, they could have come out the other way in deference to his social work, but they chose not to.

    If the law were clear that he did not deserve a green card, believe me, CBP would have taken it from him right there and sent him on a plane back to Pakistan. No court hearing necessary when you’re applying to re-enter.

    Staying outside the US for more than 6 months as a green card holder only creates a presumption of abandonment of immigrant intent. It is by law a rebuttable presumption. Certainly an internationally reknown social worker should be given the benefit of the doubt. The presumption becomes irrebuttable only after 1 year of absence, and even that can be overcome if one has timely applied for a reentry permit.

  10. It is evident that Mr. Edhi did not know how to use this card and thought it could help him like multiple entry visa
    Somebody like JAG or its Pakistani equivalent should have informed him. he is evidentally a frequent traveler
    Secondly Immigration officials only use the rules but leave common sense (if they possess) at home and that is true of any country, not just USA.
    I was returning from Karachi to USA when I met Khalid (Shabana’s uncle) and he was returning to USA on the same flight. I saw all his luggage, the pieces I could recognise. When we were going thru Immigration they had objection to Khaiid’s wife who came to Pakistan earlier than him
    Their luggage had been gone to the plane and now the rules were being applied so Khalid could go to USA but his wife could not until she gets clearance from Immigration Office.
    Somebody told the officer the luggage has gone. “Bring it back” was the order. It will cause delay. ‘So be it” Khalid could not go so I went with the persons of immigration people in their vehicle to the luggage area in the belly of the plane where I looked for their pieces of bags identified them myself to cut short the time otherwise the flight would have been delayed for four hours.
    It was delayed for one hour. The imigration officer established his authority— jahaz rukwa dain ji.

  11. How the hell did he manage to get a green card in the first place anyway? I know people who have been desparately trying for decades while being in the US without success.

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