Department of Homeland Security Targets Palestinian Activists

Revolutionary Worker #1214, October 5, 2003, posted at

Since 1987, the U.S. government has been trying to deport Palestinian activists Michel Shehadeh and Khader Hamide. Shehadeh and Hamide were two of eight immigrants, known as the LA8, targeted by the Reagan administration for deportation. The government alleged that the LA8 were politically associated with the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine and attempted to deport them under the anti-communist McCarran-Walter Act.

But despite repeated victories in their case, Shehadeh and Hamide are still being hounded by the government. Bush's Department of Homeland Security is now trying to deport these Palestinian activists under the PATRIOT Act, using the same allegations they faced in 1987.

Michel Shehadeh told the RW , "For 16 years we've been fighting this case because it's important to all the activists and all the people of this movement, and I will continue with everything I've got. They're not going to intimidate me, because they shouldn't be able to control what the people think and believe."

Following is a statement by the Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter of the Arab-American Anti- Discrimination Committee:

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee strongly condemns the Department of Homeland Security's decision to seek the deportation of two Palestinian permanent residents for their political associations in violation of their constitutional rights.

In papers filed last week, the DHS announced that it will seek to deport Michel Shehadeh and Khader Hamide under the provisions of the McCarran-Walter Act that were declared unconstitutional in 1990. The DHS is also seeking to add new charges under the USA PATRIOT Act, marking the first time the government has enforced a PATRIOT Act provision making foreign nationals deportable for their support of "terrorist groups," broadly defined as any two or more persons who have threatened to use or used a weapon to endanger person or property. These charges are likely to be dismissed because the government cannot find factual grounds to substantiate the charges and missed a court-imposed deadline for filing any such additional charges more than two months ago.

Hamide and Shehadeh, both green-card holders, have built their lives with their families in the United States for the last three decades. Mr. Shehadeh previously served as the ADC West Coast Regional Director for eight years through 2002 and currently serves as a local Chapter Board member with ADC LA/OC Chapter. The government charges that Hamide and Shehadeh were associated with and supported the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a faction of the PLO, in the mid-1980s.

However, when they were arrested (with six other student activists in Los Angeles) in 1987, the then-FBI Director William Webster testified in Congress that after an extensive three-year FBI investigation, the respondents "have not been found to have engaged themselves in terrorist activity," and admitted that "if these individuals had been United States citizens, there would not have been a basis for their arrest."

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