Bloggings On Political Asylum


by

Jason Dzubow









Afghan Woman Who Feared Deportation Found Dead





An Afghan woman who was under investigation for filing a false asylum claim was found dead last month in an apparent suicide.  Gulalay Bahawdory, 60, grew up in Afghanistan and lived in Europe before coming to the United States and applying for asylum in 2000.


In her asylum application, Ms. Bahawdory apparently used a fake
name.  Her husband, Bashir Bahawdory, also a former refugee from
Afghanistan, states
that she left the United States before receiving a decision in her
case.  But ICE says that her case was denied and she was ordered removed
from the U.S. in April 2001.  Both the husband and ICE could be
correct: Perhaps she left before a decision was reached, and then an IJ
ordered her removed in absentia.


In 2004, Ms. Bahawdory returned to the United States based on a
marriage petition filed by her husband.  She became a U.S. citizen in
2009.



According to the Taliban, these girls are committing a serious crime.



Ms. Bahawdory lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It sounds like she
had a good life there with her husband and her adult step children, who
thought of her as a best friend.


For some reason, ICE began investigating her case earlier this year.
 After the investigation began, Ms. Bahawdory thought of little else,
her husband said.  She feared that if she were deported to Afghanistan,
she would be harmed or killed by the Taliban or other extremists.


According to an ICE spokesperson, “Mrs. Bahawdory’s prior removal
from the United States was discovered when ICE ran the fingerprints she
provided for the spousal petition.”  ICE did not say when or why they
checked the fingerprints or why it only began investigating her
citizenship this year.  Also, no word on why this discrepancy was not
discovered earlier.  (After all, what’s the point of taking fingerprints
if they don’t reveal issues like this at the time of the application?)


Last month, Ms. Bahawdory’s body was found in a lake in north
Raleigh.  Police found her car nearby.  In the car, there were three
notes.  One was to her husband, stating that she loved him and knew what
she had done was wrong.  She wrote a second note to her attorney,
thanking her for doing what she could to help.  The third letter was
left for the Raleigh police.  “I love the United States,” Ms. Bahawdory
wrote.  “God bless the United States.”


Whatever the cause of death, this is clearly a tragic case.  If, as
it appears, Ms. Bahawdory committed suicide for fear of deportation to
Afghanistan, her death is doubly tragic.  For one thing, having already
attained U.S. citizenship, it is not easy for the U.S. government to
revoke that citizenship.  Remember John Demjanjuk
He was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was convicted of accessory to
murder of 27,900 Jews during World War II.  Despite his horrific crimes,
it took over 30 years to finally de-naturalize and deport him.  If it
took 30 years for a criminal like Mr. Demjanjuk, how long would it have
taken for Ms. Bahawdory?


Also, even if her citizenship were revoked, Ms. Bahawdory had several
defenses to removal: She could have sought asylum (or lesser forms of
humanitarian relief like Withholding of Removal or Torture Convention
relief); She might have been eligible for a waiver for the immigration
fraud; She might have been eligible for Cancellation of Removal.  In
addition, even if she were denied all relief, she could have asked for
deferral of removal based on humanitarian grounds.  She certainly would
have presented a sympathetic case given her age, her home country, her
family ties to the U.S., and (as far as I know) her otherwise clean
record.


I can certainly understand why someone–especially a woman from a
country like Afghanistan–would feel tremendous stress if she felt she
would be deported to her homeland.  But Ms. Bahawdory was a long way
from being deported.  If she really did commit suicide because she
feared deportation, this is a tragedy that should never have happened.


Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.








About The Author




Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.In December 2011, Washingtonian magazine recognized Dr. Dzubow as one of the best immigration lawyers in the Washington, DC area; in March 2011, he was listed as one of the top 25 legal minds in the country in the area of immigration law. Mr. Dzubow is also an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University in Virginia.






The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.