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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

VOICE OF AMERICA-SPONSORED JOURNALIST DETAINED BY ICE

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The Washington Post reports on a strange story pitting the State Department's Voice of America broadcast service with DHS' Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


U.S. immigration officials have detained a Pakistani journalist
employed by the U.S.-sponsored Voice of America news service who was
hoping to find refuge in the United States after Islamic militants in
Pakistan destroyed his house and threatened his life.

Rahman Bunairee, 33, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon upon
arriving at Dulles International Airport, according to VOA officials.


It is not clear why Bunairee was detained.

Joan Mower, a spokeswoman for VOA, declined to comment on the
particulars of Bunairee's detention other than to say: "VOA is
obviously extremely concerned. We're really upset about what's happened
to this guy."

Cori Bassett, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
confirmed that Bunairee is in the agency's custody but said she could
not release further details because of privacy reasons.

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Comments

  1. George Chell's Avatar
    The question is whether he had a valid visa. If he did, it is the clear cut case of too many cooks involved in immigration and each trying to defend their own territory. In most countries only one organization is involved with immigration. In the US at least three agencies are, and it is clearly a jobs program for Americans or Americans who happen to have connection with this agencies, whether qualified or not!
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    This is another story about the DHS...

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090815/people_nm/us_india_usa_khan
  3. hmm's Avatar
    http://bibdaily.com/ reports that he had J-1, a non-immigrant visa. He could either use it or try entering a refugee. After what happened to him ICE could have doubts that he'll ever come back home, so they could decide that he cannot be admitted under a non-immigrant visa.
    Probably this came up at the border so he filed as a refugee. Now I do not know for sure but aren't all refugees initially detained? It would make sense else anyone could enter the country as a refugee.
  4. Balb's Avatar
    Clearly Mr. Bunairee is at fault. US have always exploited and used the local populace at the height of a crisis or when US is in trouble. When it comes to the question taking responsibility, these localites are treated the same way used contraceptives are treated. Mr. Bunairee should have an idea what happened to the Afgans after Soviet war or the Kurds who responded to US and revolted against Saddam after first Gulf war. As a journalist if he still had any doubt what was his choice, he should have his head examined. It is also clear from some of the comments here that whatever be the level of commitment of Mr. Bunairee, that is never good enough for protection by US.

    My research shows that he would not be allowed to board a US bound plane without a valid visa.
    How dare a third world stringer not know that there is a wonderful lack of coordination between DOS and DHS. It is the fundamental duty of anybody seeking entry in US to know that USCIS, ICE, CBP, FEMA, TSA, USCG takes their own sweet time to exchange data among themselves and often mired in bureaucratic territorial battle. Had they known all these beforehand, many would have thought twice before knocking the door of the land of the free
  5. hmm's Avatar
    Balb, I find your analysis of US foreign policy accurate. I was merely reacting to the fact that Greg called the story "strange". In fact there seem to be nothing strange here. ICE people have to follow the law and I think the law is such that that journalist had to be detained. He will soon be released if DOS wants him so badly.
  6. gg's Avatar
    Seems like everyone including Shah Rukh Khan have moved into damage control mode ... Shah Rukh Khan is now downplaying the incident, so are the immigration authorities and the US embassy in India.

    Shah Rukh Khan who is well connected enabled his release by making a phone to call to an Indian lawmaker in India .

    Some reports indicate that the practice of VIP treatment for US lawmakers and celebrities at India airports are likely to be reviewed and changed to match the US protocols. Meaning every US lawmaker would have to go through the same protocols at Indian airports and give his / her fingerprint at the point of entry ... I am not sure if will really happen but if it does then it would be interesting.

    But the VOA journo in the above story is not as well connected as Shah Rukh Khan and hence continues to be in detention.

  7. Vivek Shah's Avatar
    DHS & USCIS continue to give non-plausible stories on the Shahrukh Khan case. While I totally dis-agree with the VIP culture and that SRK should be treated just like any other visitor, a few things don't make sense: -

    1. DHS says that SRK was first taken for a secondary inspection but dont divulge the reason - obviously this means his name came up in some "terrorist" list. How difficult is to go beyond just the name and try to match the DOB, nationality etc... to ensure he is no terrorist. Just try a google search!

    2. DHS then says, he was also detained because his bags didn't arrive on the same flight as he. Well, duh, how is that a reason to detain him? The airline loads the bags not the passenger!

    3. Luckily SRK had the clout to call the Indian Embassy/Consulate in teh US who could vouch for him. What about a normal person who gets in such a situation?

    4. If SRK was assigned a visa in the first place, means some US agency had verified his background and definitely during the namecheck this issue of a name match with a terrorist mus've come up. Why wasn't this information relayed to the IO at the border?

    Protecting the homeland is an absolute must - but you dont have to be stupid about it (re-call the case of Senator Kennedy who wasn't allowed to fly because some terrorist used his name! How stupid was it of the security officials to not let him fly even after you see the person in front of you and know who he is and has valid documents?!)
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    "Protecting the homeland is an absolute must - but you dont have to be stupid about it."

    Stupidity and lack of skills is a major problem in this country, particularly with the DHS. It looks like an employment program for the good ole' boys.
  9. Vivek Shah's Avatar
    "Stupidity and lack of skills is a major problem in this country, particularly with the DHS. It looks like an employment program for the good ole' boys."

    George - I totally agree with you. I don't know what else explains the fact that DHS requires legal immigrants to leave the country for a visa renewal with the reason that the US Consulates abroad are better equipped to handle security checks than DHS offices in the US!

    Also the fact that if someone is already in the US, they don't have to get their visa renewed, but if they leave the country for a few days, they have to go through the entire rigmarole of "appearing for an interview" at a US consulate abroad. Talk about job security!
  10. AJ's Avatar
    Looks like the Shah Rukh's case was another instance of efficient DHS and State coordination. One of the Congress party newspapers has this to share -

    "It is equally unusual for an embassy and the state department to act with such haste on a Saturday to be able to issue any statement at all on a matter that, after all, falls far short in gravity than, say, a break in US diplomatic relations with another country.

    Roemer waded into the Khan affair because, in one sweep, it nullified a carefully planned effort by the secretary of state Hillary Clinton to advertise that the Obama administration is "palling around" with Muslims in South Asia when she appeared with Bollywood actor Aamir Khan at Mumbai's St. Xavier College on July 18 on a programme that was nationally televised in India and was watched widely in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Gulf states."

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090817/jsp/frontpage/story_11369097.jsp
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