Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Press Release, Legal rights organizations, Oct 31, 2007
"The 20-year effort to deport two men over their alleged political support of Palestinian self-determination officially came to an end today when the nation's highest administrative body overseeing immigration cases dismissed all charges against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, members of a group of Palestinian student activists arrested in January 1987, who became known as the LA 8.
The action by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) closes one of the nation's longest-running and most controversial deportation cases, one that tested whether immigrants have the same First Amendment rights as citizens.....
"My family and I feel a tremendous amount of relief today," said Hamide. "After 20 years, the nightmare is finally over. I feel vindicated at long last. This is a victory not only for us, but for the First Amendment of the Constitution and for the rights of all immigrants."
The case against the pair began in January 1987 when the government arrested them and six others, who collectively came to be known as the LA 8, placed them in maximum security prison, and accused them of having ties to a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The government alleged that Hamide and Shehadeh distributed newspapers, held demonstrations and organized humanitarian aid fundraisers for Palestinians, and that because these actions supported the PLO faction, they should be deported. The men were initially charged with being associated with a Communist organization, but when a court declared those charges unconstitutional, the government filed new charges of material support for a terrorist group. The case went before the US Court of Appeals four times, the Supreme Court once, and the Board of Immigration Appeals multiple times......"