Sunday, July 10, 2005

So you're not a terrorist - you DID buy marijuana!

I love stories like this.

In my quarterly column Random Jaded Thoughts published in Florida Defender Magazine, I recently penned "I will not sleep safely until every immigrant with a 20-year old pot conviction is deported."

In today's Miami Herald, appears a story along these lines:

It shows the desperation of our government to save face at all costs and find reasons to justify the application of draconian immigration laws in a way to bolster the war on terrorism.

The Herald reports that the deportation of Basuyouy Mamdouh Ebaid hinges on him buying a small amount of marijuana in 1999. In June 1999, Ebaid plead guilty in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to purchasing and possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana for his personal use that year. As part of his plea deal, he was sentenced to time served -- one day.

By the way, U.S. authorities have labeled him a suspected terrorist but have not charged him. Thank god for the pot conviction.

According to the Herald, Ebaid was on a federal terrorist watch list because he was overheard allegedly praising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers. It is apparently illegal to do this in the same light it is illegal to criticize the President.

The Herald further reports:

FBI agents found nothing tying him to terrorists, according to his lawyers and wife, who strongly denied he ever said those things.

The FBI isn't talking, and no terrorism-related charges are being filed. But federal immigration authorities still want to boot Ebaid out of the country. Not for alleged terrorist activities -- but for buying pot in 1999.

Although Ebaid's was not convicted in court because he was a first-time offender, U.S. authorities recognize it as an aggravated felony conviction, which is another law that exists unbeknownst to the general public. Did you know that even if you are not convicted in court, Immigration and Customs Enforcement can still consider that a conviction? Congratulations America.

Ebaid has being held at the Krome Detention Center since early March. He came to this country as a student in 1984, lives with his Mexican wife and two children, and works with his wife at their Middle Eastern restaurant.

It a bit of irony, Ebaid's lawyers are trying to stop his deportation to Egypt because they argue he would face persecution in his homeland after being branded as a 'terrorist'' in the United States. Way to go guys!

His Miami attorney, Linda Osburg-Braun, is attempting to have the whole case thrown out.

''The defendant entered a plea without any knowledge of the true effects of his plea upon his immigration status in the United States,'' Osburg-Braun told the court in March. Who cares, right?

''The defendant was not advised that his plea could subject him to deportation,'' she said. 'In fact, he was affirmatively told by the judge that it `was not a conviction of guilt.'" Yeah, whatever.

Legal experts said Ebaid's case is remarkable because he was tagged as a ''terrorist'' but is now being deported for using pot.

What's remarkable about that?

This goes on routinely, people.

God Bless America.