Friday, November 2, 2007
The Case of the LA8: U.S. Drops Twenty-Year Effort to Deport Arab Americans for Supporting Palestinian National Rights
With Amy Goodman
"The U.S. government has dropped a major deportation case dating back to the Reagan administration. On Tuesday, the Board of Immigration Appeals announced prosecutors will end a twenty-year attempt to deport two Palestinian Americans for allegedly raising money for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In 1987, the Reagan administration attempted to bar the two men, Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, and six others on the grounds that they were connected to a communist group. The men became known as the L.A. Eight. They were never deported because a federal appeals court declared the anti-communist law unconstitutional.
Earlier this year, an immigration judge ruled the government violated the defendants’ constitutional rights in a case he called "an embarrassment to the rule of law.” The ruling marked the government’s sixth unsuccessful attempt at prosecution. Under a settlement, Hamide and Shehadeh will be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship in three years.
Michel Shehadeh joins us the phone from California. One of his attorneys, Marc Van Der Hout of the National Lawyers Guild, is here in Washington.....
MICHEL SHEHADEH: Well, Amy, this case happened in 1987, on January 26 of 1987, and I was living in Long Beach then. I was sleeping in my apartment with my three-year-old son when about fifteen agents barged into my house and handcuffed me and dragged me outside in front of my son. And outside, the scene was like a scene from Hollywood. We had the local police, three carloads, aiming their guns at the house and a helicopter hovering on top of the house. And they took me to prison, where we were in custody -- it was then I found out that the other seven were also arrested. And we were incarcerated in San Pedro State Prison, maximum security for twenty-three days.
It took us a while to find out -- until our attorneys came and visited after one week, that we found out the charges and the nature of the charges. We didn’t know why we were incarcerated. We were wondering what, you know, the reason were. And after one week, we found out that there was a plan, a secret plan then, that was leaked to the newspapers then, was -- the plan was entitled “Alien Terrorists and Undesirables: A Contingency Plan.” And in the plan there were an outline of a test case, and that test case to establish a legal precedent, so in case of a war, as the plan says, or an incident, then Arab Americans will be round up en masse and put in concentration camp, like what happened to the Japanese Americans in 1945 after Pearl Harbor. And this test case will be to establish that legal precedent, so the government will be able to do it. And they said that they learned that from the registrations of Iranians in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, when they wanted to do a registration of the Iranians, and they couldn’t, because they didn’t have the law.
So our attorneys in court were able to prove and establish that the process of this case followed the outline of the test case that was outlined in their plan to the letter. And so, we believe that we were this test case over the years. And, you know, we had six sets of charges throughout, because, as Marc has outlined, we were charged under the McCarran-Walter Act, then under the 1990 Immigration Act, then under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, then under the PATRIOT Act, and also under the Real ID Act. So, we were charged retroactively also for things allegedly that were done way before the law was established......"