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Teacher seeking asylum is arrested, hopes for criminal defense

The legal environment for immigrants in the United States, including in New Jersey, is not a friendly one these days. The federal government has often come into conflict with the states by adopting a no-holds-barred kind of strict enforcement policy. This policy reflects criminal arrests as well as harsh deportation tactics by the feds. Criminal defense attorneys who understand and work in immigration law are at a premium.

In one recent incident, a New Jersey teacher who has an asylum request pending was seized outside his apartment by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The 33-year-old was taken by seven ICE officers to a detention center in Elizabeth. He remains there, pending what he hopes will be some semblance of legal process.

The respected teacher in an Islamic school in Union City was taken totally by surprise and sent into a state of shock. He still does not know what the allegations are against him. He has learned that his asylum case was transferred to an immigration court. He has no criminal record and has led a model life since coming here from his native Egypt where he faces a death sentence for pro-democratic activities.

The teacher's popularity among his students was immediately apparent as they organized a website on his behalf, started an online petition and lobbied politicians for his release. They reported that he was an outstanding teacher and a role model for his students. He also has the support of many human rights organizations due to his stand against civil rights abuses in his country. He was sentenced to death in absentia by the Egyptian military in May 2016.

Scholars and Middle East experts questioned the federal government's harsh policy in apparently trying to deport an innocent man to his death. He had been given permission to work while his case for asylum was pending. Why the case was transferred and why the government would attempt to interfere with a deserving asylum applicant remains unexplained by authorities, as criminal defense attorneys continue to seek out answers. Similar problems have been cropping up in New Jersey with increasing regularity under the current ICE policies and procedures.

Source: msn.com, "ICE Detains A New Jersey Teacher Who Would Face A Death Sentence In Egypt", Rowaida Abdelaziz, April 14, 2018

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