Adem Carroll, a community activist with the Islamic Circle of North America in Jamaica, was approached by the girl's family to speak on their behalf . Another girl from Guinea is also being held on similar charges, but less is know about her situation."They're a hard working, decent family," said Carroll, who pointed out that the Queens Village family was not talking to media outlets and the girl's name was being withheld by law enforcement sources because of her age."ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents arrested the two girls on immigration violations some time last week," Manny Van Pelt, a spokesman for the federal agency, said last Thursday. "Because they are juveniles, I cannot comment further."Van Pelt said later in the week that the girls were being held on separate immigration violations, one for entering the United States without an inspection and the other for overstaying her visa, but he could not comment on which girl was being held on which charge.The two girls are currently in the family detention center in Leesport, Pa., and have had court appearances at Immigration Court in York, Pa., behind closed doors."There is no real evidence of any plot at all," said Carroll. "Having the case heard behind closed doors gives the government side a lot more power.""It's not a secret process," sad Van Pelt Monday. "Their attorneys have seen everything at this point."Carroll said the Queens Village girl had retained a lawyer, but he failed to show up at a hearing and the family sought different counsel, but the paperwork was not filed in time, which meant the teen had no attorney present at a recent hearing. He said the American Civil Liberties Union is paying attention to the case and could become involved."We're not representing her, but we are very concerned," said Donna Lieberman a spokeswoman for the ACLU. "The detentions are the product of law enforcement making assumptions about ethnic and religious stereotypes."Carroll said the girl had been attending HS 400 in Manhattan but left because she felt uncomfortable there because of teasing from other students about her dress, which was an Islamic veil that covered much of her face. She was then home-schooled, where she wrote an essay that contained the subject matter of suicide bombers. But Carroll, who has not seen the essay, said the text containing the suicide bomber material of the paper was taken out of context.Carroll also said he questioned how the authorities became involved in the Queens Village girls case. He said a family dispute led the girl's parents to file a complaint with the police against her which Carroll thought began the investigation. The New York Police Department did not return calls seeking comment on the complaint or subsequent investigation.The New York Times reported that the parents filed the complaint against the girl because she had run away from home for a short time and they later attempted to retract it. But the FBI arrived at their Queens Village home, identifying themselves as being from a youth center and searched the girl's room where they found the essay. The Times also said the agents took away materials and a computer form the girl's home.Lieberman said the government may be pressing the immigration violations because it lacks evidence that the two girls wanted to become suicide bombers."That may well be the case," said Lieberman, "and has been time and time again since Sept. 11.""We hope the people of Queens won't prejudge them," said Carroll.Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.
©2005 Community News Group
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