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Fateful Knock From INS. Crackdown hits NY's Pakistanis.

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  • Fateful Knock From INS. Crackdown hits NY's Pakistanis.

    At dawn on Sept. 17, the Mughal family was awakened by pounding on the door
    to their apartment on Westminster Road in Brooklyn.

    "It sounded like someone was trying to break it down," recalled Mohammad
    Riaz Mughal, 35, an immigrant from Pakistan.

    His wife, Shabana Kousar, nervously undid the lock, and four armed INS
    agents wearing bulletproof vests rushed in. They asked the two men in the
    house, Mughal and his younger brother, Mohammad Ijaz Mughal, for their
    driver's licenses. Then they arrested Ijaz Mughal, a contractor who moved
    to the city 10 years ago. The agents said they had indications he was in
    this country illegally.

    In all, the Immigration and Naturalization Service says 763 immigrants have
    been detained in the crackdown since the World Trade Center attacks. While
    the agency says the number of arrests has dropped considerably - with only
    a dozen since mid-June - Pakistani leaders say the raids have been
    continuing in their communities.

    More Pakistanis than any other nationality have been arrested amid the
    heightened scrutiny, and advocates for immigrants say the detentions have
    made many Pakistani New Yorkers fearful that a fateful knock on the door
    could come any time for them or a loved one.

    An INS official, speaking on the condition his name not be used, said that
    relatively large numbers of Pakistanis were targeted because of their
    country's historic support of Al-Qaida and its support of the Taliban
    militants who sheltered the terrorist group in Afghanistan.

    The official said the INS raids have been "driven" by tips or by "leads"
    developed by federal investigators. "Their names had come up in some way
    with the 9 / 11 investigation," he said of the detainees.

    But, challenging INS suggestions that some detainees were linked to Sept.
    11, Emily Whitfield, spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union,
    said, "None of them was ever charged with terrorism. These are just people
    accused of immigration violations . . . They're being singled out for their
    religion and their national origin."

    The detainees are held for weeks or months and are generally deported.
    Since the summer, the INS has chartered two planes to send about 250
    detained Pakistanis back to their homeland, an INS official said.

    Advocates for immigrants say the detainees fit the profile of people like
    Ijaz, hard-working men whose only crime was they did not have proper
    immigration papers.

    Ijaz, who as of last week was being held at a detention facility in New
    Jersey, owned the C.M.C. Group construction company in Brooklyn, his
    brother said. He put in 12-hour days, six days a week, and worked on
    projects he was proud of, such as a landmark building in Manhattan and the
    78th Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn, the brother said.

    Ijaz had applied for political asylum and thought he was about to receive
    it, his brother Riaz said.

    Riaz said it was absurd to think a relative of his had ties to the events
    of Sept. 11. On that morning, Riaz said, he himself was at Park Place and
    Church Street in Manhattan, three blocks from the World Trade Center,
    preparing to go up a scaffold to steam clean a building when the first
    plane slammed into the center. Like thousands of others, he fled for his
    life. He said he despises the fanatics who caused the death and destruction.

    Riaz appeared nervous and fearful as he spoke in an interview a week and a
    half ago, reflecting the mood of many Pakistanis in Brooklyn and Queens,
    say advocates.

    "I don't think it would be an overstatement to say there's panic in the
    Pakistani community in New York City," said Christopher Dunn, associate
    legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    "It's had a huge impact on them. They are terrified of law enforcement now,
    and they have every reason to be, given the way they have been targeted."

    Shafquat Chaudhary, a Pakistani-American and owner of Elite Limousine in
    Long Island City, said at least 50 of the 800 drivers he employed before
    Sept. 11, 2001 have left his company, and in many cases have left New York,
    because they are afraid.

    "Some went back to Pakistan, some went to Canada," Chaudhary said. "People
    whose papers might not be 100 percent, they are leaving."

    The U.S. Census Bureau counted 24,099 Pakistanis in the city in 2000,
    although Asghar Choudhri, president of the Pakistani American Federation of
    New York, estimates there are upward of 200,000 Pakistanis in the five
    boroughs.

    Hafiz Sabir, the imam or prayer leader of the Makki Mosque in Midwood,
    where many Pakistanis worship in Brooklyn, said members of the tightly knit
    Pakistani community learn of the raids by word-of-mouth and worry it could
    next happen to them.

    Two and a half weeks ago, in their apartment on Kings Highway in Brooklyn,
    Mehrunisa Ayub and her husband, Faisal Iqbal, were sleeping with their
    2-year-old son, Faheem. At about 6 a.m., there was a banging on the door.

    Ayub's father-in-law opened it and let in the five armed INS agents, who
    asked for Faisal Iqbal and said, "We have a warrant for your deportation,"
    Ayub recalled. She said she tried to tell the agents she was an American
    citizen and that her husband's application for a green card was pending,
    but her comments went unheeded.

    "I took my son to another room so he couldn't see what was happening," she
    said. "I didn't want him to have a picture in his mind of his father like
    that."

    Iqbal, 24, came to the United States with his mother about 12 years ago,
    his wife said. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn and
    became proficient in computers and graphics.

    At the time of his arrest, Iqbal was a successful salesman with Eye
    Graphics and Printing company, located on East 28th Street in Manhattan,
    his wife said. He was hoping to fulfill his father's dream for him "to be
    educated and have everything," she added.

    Some of those arrested in the post-Sept. 11 sweeps were at their jobs when
    the INS came calling, relatives say.

    Two weeks ago, speaking from her home in Kew Gardens, Sultana Nayyar Ali
    said that her husband Alisher, 29, had been working as a cashier at a Getty
    service station in upstate Ellenville on July 30 when INS agents showed up
    at about 6 a.m. and arrested him.

    "We have two children. I don't know what we will do now," said Sultana Ali,
    who has been staying with relatives in Kew Gardens. "Every day he worked 12
    hours and brought us groceries."

    Asked to confirm that Alisher Ali, Faisal Iqbal and Ijaz Mughal were being
    held in detention facilities in Middlesex and Passaic counties, N.J., INS
    spokesman Kerry Gill said, "We haven't been confirming that sort of thing."

    Ijaz Mughal's brother Riaz said he hopes one day he can feel safe again in
    the land he has come to love. Like other Pakistanis, he said he is happy
    that Pakistan has become a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

    "We don't want to damage this country," Riaz said, referring to his and his
    brother's work in the construction industry. "We like to build this country."

  • #2
    At dawn on Sept. 17, the Mughal family was awakened by pounding on the door
    to their apartment on Westminster Road in Brooklyn.

    "It sounded like someone was trying to break it down," recalled Mohammad
    Riaz Mughal, 35, an immigrant from Pakistan.

    His wife, Shabana Kousar, nervously undid the lock, and four armed INS
    agents wearing bulletproof vests rushed in. They asked the two men in the
    house, Mughal and his younger brother, Mohammad Ijaz Mughal, for their
    driver's licenses. Then they arrested Ijaz Mughal, a contractor who moved
    to the city 10 years ago. The agents said they had indications he was in
    this country illegally.

    In all, the Immigration and Naturalization Service says 763 immigrants have
    been detained in the crackdown since the World Trade Center attacks. While
    the agency says the number of arrests has dropped considerably - with only
    a dozen since mid-June - Pakistani leaders say the raids have been
    continuing in their communities.

    More Pakistanis than any other nationality have been arrested amid the
    heightened scrutiny, and advocates for immigrants say the detentions have
    made many Pakistani New Yorkers fearful that a fateful knock on the door
    could come any time for them or a loved one.

    An INS official, speaking on the condition his name not be used, said that
    relatively large numbers of Pakistanis were targeted because of their
    country's historic support of Al-Qaida and its support of the Taliban
    militants who sheltered the terrorist group in Afghanistan.

    The official said the INS raids have been "driven" by tips or by "leads"
    developed by federal investigators. "Their names had come up in some way
    with the 9 / 11 investigation," he said of the detainees.

    But, challenging INS suggestions that some detainees were linked to Sept.
    11, Emily Whitfield, spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union,
    said, "None of them was ever charged with terrorism. These are just people
    accused of immigration violations . . . They're being singled out for their
    religion and their national origin."

    The detainees are held for weeks or months and are generally deported.
    Since the summer, the INS has chartered two planes to send about 250
    detained Pakistanis back to their homeland, an INS official said.

    Advocates for immigrants say the detainees fit the profile of people like
    Ijaz, hard-working men whose only crime was they did not have proper
    immigration papers.

    Ijaz, who as of last week was being held at a detention facility in New
    Jersey, owned the C.M.C. Group construction company in Brooklyn, his
    brother said. He put in 12-hour days, six days a week, and worked on
    projects he was proud of, such as a landmark building in Manhattan and the
    78th Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn, the brother said.

    Ijaz had applied for political asylum and thought he was about to receive
    it, his brother Riaz said.

    Riaz said it was absurd to think a relative of his had ties to the events
    of Sept. 11. On that morning, Riaz said, he himself was at Park Place and
    Church Street in Manhattan, three blocks from the World Trade Center,
    preparing to go up a scaffold to steam clean a building when the first
    plane slammed into the center. Like thousands of others, he fled for his
    life. He said he despises the fanatics who caused the death and destruction.

    Riaz appeared nervous and fearful as he spoke in an interview a week and a
    half ago, reflecting the mood of many Pakistanis in Brooklyn and Queens,
    say advocates.

    "I don't think it would be an overstatement to say there's panic in the
    Pakistani community in New York City," said Christopher Dunn, associate
    legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    "It's had a huge impact on them. They are terrified of law enforcement now,
    and they have every reason to be, given the way they have been targeted."

    Shafquat Chaudhary, a Pakistani-American and owner of Elite Limousine in
    Long Island City, said at least 50 of the 800 drivers he employed before
    Sept. 11, 2001 have left his company, and in many cases have left New York,
    because they are afraid.

    "Some went back to Pakistan, some went to Canada," Chaudhary said. "People
    whose papers might not be 100 percent, they are leaving."

    The U.S. Census Bureau counted 24,099 Pakistanis in the city in 2000,
    although Asghar Choudhri, president of the Pakistani American Federation of
    New York, estimates there are upward of 200,000 Pakistanis in the five
    boroughs.

    Hafiz Sabir, the imam or prayer leader of the Makki Mosque in Midwood,
    where many Pakistanis worship in Brooklyn, said members of the tightly knit
    Pakistani community learn of the raids by word-of-mouth and worry it could
    next happen to them.

    Two and a half weeks ago, in their apartment on Kings Highway in Brooklyn,
    Mehrunisa Ayub and her husband, Faisal Iqbal, were sleeping with their
    2-year-old son, Faheem. At about 6 a.m., there was a banging on the door.

    Ayub's father-in-law opened it and let in the five armed INS agents, who
    asked for Faisal Iqbal and said, "We have a warrant for your deportation,"
    Ayub recalled. She said she tried to tell the agents she was an American
    citizen and that her husband's application for a green card was pending,
    but her comments went unheeded.

    "I took my son to another room so he couldn't see what was happening," she
    said. "I didn't want him to have a picture in his mind of his father like
    that."

    Iqbal, 24, came to the United States with his mother about 12 years ago,
    his wife said. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn and
    became proficient in computers and graphics.

    At the time of his arrest, Iqbal was a successful salesman with Eye
    Graphics and Printing company, located on East 28th Street in Manhattan,
    his wife said. He was hoping to fulfill his father's dream for him "to be
    educated and have everything," she added.

    Some of those arrested in the post-Sept. 11 sweeps were at their jobs when
    the INS came calling, relatives say.

    Two weeks ago, speaking from her home in Kew Gardens, Sultana Nayyar Ali
    said that her husband Alisher, 29, had been working as a cashier at a Getty
    service station in upstate Ellenville on July 30 when INS agents showed up
    at about 6 a.m. and arrested him.

    "We have two children. I don't know what we will do now," said Sultana Ali,
    who has been staying with relatives in Kew Gardens. "Every day he worked 12
    hours and brought us groceries."

    Asked to confirm that Alisher Ali, Faisal Iqbal and Ijaz Mughal were being
    held in detention facilities in Middlesex and Passaic counties, N.J., INS
    spokesman Kerry Gill said, "We haven't been confirming that sort of thing."

    Ijaz Mughal's brother Riaz said he hopes one day he can feel safe again in
    the land he has come to love. Like other Pakistanis, he said he is happy
    that Pakistan has become a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

    "We don't want to damage this country," Riaz said, referring to his and his
    brother's work in the construction industry. "We like to build this country."

    Comment

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