Chicago-Area Muslim Banned From America
CHICAGO (AP - 27 Jan) - The president of a Chicago-area Muslim group said Sunday he still had not learned why immigration officials denied him permission to return to the United States after he visited his parents in Jordan.
Sabri Samirah, president of the United Muslim Americans Association in suburban Palos Hills, says he was returning to Chicago last weekend after a three-week visit to Jordan when officials at Ireland's Shannon Airport told he could not return to the United States.
He said they cited a fax from Brian Perryman, the Immigration and Naturalization Service director in Chicago, revoking his permission to leave the country.
``I am waiting for more details from the INS about why they decided to bar me from going back to my home, my family and my work,'' Samirah said in a telephone interview from his parents' home in Jordan. ``I am here in Jordan and my hands are tied and I feel very powerless.''
``They said he was a security risk, but they never explained what the risk is,'' said Manal El-Hrisse, spokeswoman for Samirah's political advocacy group.
The INS has not commented specifically about Samirah's case but has said in general that people who have applied for but not received permanent residency, even those with the ``advanced parole'' papers Samirah said he received to travel, are not guaranteed re-entry into the United States.
Calls to the Chicago INS office on Sunday by The Associated Press went unanswered.
Samirah, 36, of Orland Park, said Irish authorities held him in a cell overnight and told him he could either buy a return ticket to Jordan or remain in jail for days or weeks ``until an Irish judge decides what to do with you.''
Samirah said he had lived in the United States for 15 years and had not returned to Jordan since 1990, in part to give U.S. officials time to investigate him and determine that he was not a threat to the United States.
``Political groups that do not agree with my opinions started spreading rumors that I had links to illegal groups,'' he said. ``I am aware the INS and FBI investigated and they found nothing because I have the cleanest of records.''
He said his lawyers in Chicago were trying to persuade INS officials to let him return.