Amer Jubran -- For Now
After more than two weeks detention by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service, Amer Jubran is out on bond. The INS hasnt given up, though.
In a few months theyll try to deport him. In the meantime, the feds
have again shown a determination to trample on civil liberties to harass
Jubran, a 33 year-old Rhode Island resident, is co-founder of a new organization
that seeks a one-state Middle East solution, the New
England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP, http://www.onepalestine.org).
But, as one member told me before the November 21st INS hearing, you dont
have to buy the Palestinian activists politics to recognize the
injustice of his treatment. He also noted that he disagrees with almost
everything I write about Israel
and Palestine, apparently because we differ about whether transforming
Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza into a single state is more realistic
or less realistic than establishing two viable states. So Im not
as much a believer as NECDP might like.
But its also clear to me that Amer Jubrans been railroaded.
The arrest came November 4th, two days after Jubran, a Jordanian citizen,
led NECDPs first march through downtown Boston. According to Jubran,
INS and FBI agents showed up at his house without a warrant and told him
if he answered questions about his political activities theyd soon
be gone; otherwise, hed suffer indefinite detention.
When Jubran insisted on calling a lawyer, they hauled him to the Cranston,
Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution. Nelson Brill, Jubrans
immigration attorney, said an INS official hung up on him a few days later
when he persisted in asking why INS refused to release Jubran on bail.
This wasnt Jubrans first confrontation with authorities.
He made local news in 2001 when police arrested him for allegedly kicking
a hostile passerby while demonstrating at Bostons annual Israel
Independence Day Festival, held in nearby Brookline. Witnesses claimed
Brookline cops arrested the nonviolent Jubran after reneging on an agreement
about demonstration logistics; then they pressured 60 protestors to leave
the area. In the end, the evidence pointed not to Jubrans guilt
but to his victimization by authorities. After nine hearings and an international
support campaign, the judge
dismissed all charges.
After his Brookline exoneration, Jubrans advocacy continued. He
helped organize protests when Israeli troops moved into the West Bank
last winter and spoke widely at demonstrations, college classes, and other
events. Jubrans personable, always-polite demeanor and his meticulous
efforts to cooperate with authorities to ensure nonviolent protest made
it difficult for the authorities to clamp down on his political advocacy.
According to attorney Brill, the current INS case is as fishy as the
patently illegal arrests timing and process. Once Brill
finally got Jubran a bond hearing, INS lawyer John DeAngelo pointed to
two issues related to the validity of Jubrans past marriage.
First, INS says Jubran lied when he filed for residency and said he married
a US citizen in 1997; INS says that marriage certificate wasnt valid.
In May 1998, when INS informed Jubran he wasnt legally married,
he and his wife obtained a new certificate. According to Brill, the confusion
stems from poor advice from Jubrans Boston attorney at the time,
who wasnt familiar with Rhode Island marriage law. It does look
like Jubran believed he got married in 1997, as he indicated on his 1997
The governments second issue stems from Jubrans filing for
divorce in February 2000. Since thats less than two years after
the May 1998 date INS insists on using, and less than half a year after
receiving his green card, INS claims Jubrans marriage was fraudulent.
At the bond hearing, Judge Leonard Shapiro implied the first issue wasnt
all that serious, noting hes seen many examples of technically deficient
But he agreed the government can presume the marriage was a fraud. So
when the case proceeds, Jubran will have to prove it was legitimate. His
ex-wife, now living in South Carolina, told Brill shell testify
the marriage was for real. But shes been spooked ever since the
FBI showed up at her house two months ago. It doesnt help that the
FBI told Jubran his refusal to answer their questions could hurt his ex-wife.
In the end, with surprising lack of objection by the INS lawyer after
refusing for 17 days to let Jubran go, Judge Shapiro released Jubran on
the minimum possible $1500 bond. He didnt even wait to hear from
those who came to testify that Jubran was neither a flight risk nor a
danger to the community. Brill just summarized the evidence about Jubrans
residential stability (five years in one apartment), job status (his Cambridge
College supervisor is holding open his Admissions Office job), lack of
criminal convictions (the judge was pleased Jubran didnt flee when
released on bond in Brookline a year earlier), and other community ties.
The judge no doubt knew some 75 supporters had come to pack the courtroom,
though most couldnt fit inside.
Amer Jubran also knew. Looking back at the few the six armed cops let
squeeze inside, he smiled cautiously. He was worn out, pale, still shackled
uncomfortably. But as soon as he was released he made it clear his political
work will continue.
Although attorney Brill hopes things dont get that far, he says
Jubran has a good case for political asylum if INS invalidates his green
card. In the meantime, the defense
committee hopes an international support campaign will force INS to
drop the case.
Regardless of the outcome for Amer Jubran, government repression continues,
enhanced by the USA PATRIOT Act and other new surveillance and detention
powers. Brill talks of other clients arrested without cause, from Brazil,
West Africa, Vietnam. He reminds us that the government is sending a message
to all activists, not just those from the Middle East: Stop what youre
doing, or well go through your file, too.
November 2003 update: Jubran agrees to voluntary deportation. Photos.
this version differs from the published versions.
Jubran Defense Committee