- February 2011
- January 2011
Zahid Chaudhry update
Decorated, disabled local veteran faces deportation hearing in April
by Wendy Tanowitz
Background: Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry's 8-year-long effort to be granted the citizenship he has earned reveals the post-9-11 nightmare that can befall a person who happens to have been born in certain parts of the world - in this case Pakistan. Zahid had come to U.S. several times - always legally - and since 2001 has been a legal permanent resident through his marriage to a U.S. citizen. In March 2001, out of a passionate desire to be of service to the country he loves, he joined the Washington Army National Guard. The totally unforeseeable events which occurred on 9-11-2001 transformed the role of the National Guard, and Zahid's formerly stateside unit became incorporated into the U.S. Army as a fighting force preparing to be sent to Iraq.
Zahid's legitimate application for naturalization (citizenship), originally filed in 2003, was based on his Qualified Military Service. Instead of the expedited citizenship which was promised to those who served in the armed forces during a time of war, his application somehow got "lost" and he had to re-file in 2004. The second application was then denied by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on grounds that are false, frivolous, out-of-jurisdiction and irrelevant. His status as a legal permanent resident was immediately threatened, as the powers-that-be put him in deportation proceedings.
In the six-plus years since his application was first denied, Zahid has lived in a topsy-turvy world of harassment, intimidation, provocation, prodding, surveillance, and cruel interrogations. An exquisitely fit person when he entered the military, he left in a wheelchair. He suffers debilitating migraines, traumatic brain injuries, nightmares, anxiety attacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), intense back and neck pain, claustrophobia attacks, narcolepsy, memory loss, tinnitus and hearing loss, among other disabling conditions - all of which are documented as being service-connected. In this physically weakened condition, he has been fighting for the right to remain in the U.S. with his wife, two step-children and four step-grandchildren.
[WIP note: For more on Zahid's story, read last month's WIP interview of Zahid at http://www.olywip.org/site/page/article/2011/01/01.html.]
Recent Hearing in Seattle: On January 12, 2011, Zahid had a Master Calendar hearing in Seattle. At that time Judge Paul DeFonzo continued the hearing to Wednesday, April 13, 2011, at 1:00 pm. The document signed by the judge indicates that the April hearing will be a combination Master/Individual Hearing -- an unusual and contradictory combination, since a Master Calendar Hearing is normally a hearing to set a date for an expanded Individual Hearing.
In Immigration Court, unlike in regular civil courts, the rules of evidence do not apply and Zahid will only be allowed to present an insignificant amount of the information contained in more than 17,000 pages of evidence amassed in his defense.
Granting of Citizenship: There are three ways Zahid can succeed in getting citizenship: (1) through immigration court proceedings; (2) through the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to which he and his wife Ann have appealed their case. (In order for this to happen, a Stay has to be granted in the deportation proceedings until the Ninth Circuit Court can hear the case); or (3) through the intervention of people in government who have the power to stop deportation and grant citizenship. If we can convince these individuals of the merits of Zahid's case, he will be able to receive his earned citizenship, stay home with his family, and get the medical care he needs and deserves.
Pro Bono Attorney Needed: If you know an attorney or are an attorney who might be interested in representing Zahid Chaudhry in April, contact him at the email address below.
To find out more about Zahid's case, the campaign to Keep Zahid Home, and how you can help, visit:
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