These are tough times for illegal aliens. In the wake of 9/11, the country has little tolerance for people who entered or have remained in the United States illegally. Given the charged political atmosphere, we are impressed that a handful of public officials found the courage to grant a Pakistani boy the chance to continue to live out his American dream.
Under the letter of the law, the INS had every right to expel Mohammad Sarfaraz Hussain, 18, a Jamaica High School basketball star. Hussain came to America when he was just 7 years old to visit his mother. She died from cancer shortly after he arrived. He remained in Queens, living with his uncle, hoping that his father would soon get a visa. His father was still waiting for the visa when he died three years ago.
Hussain appeared before the INS for what is known as Special Registration and was told he might be deported. But U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) took up his cause. The congressman argued that this young man is someone we are proud to have.
No matter how consistent with the law, it would have been a terrible mistake to put this kid on a plane back to Pakistan. He has family here and no family there. He has a bright future in America and, as far as he is concerned, he's already an American.
Hussain has wisely decided not to comment on the INS and the merits of the Special Registration process. The process was created to make it harder for international terrorists to hide out in America. Whether or not this policy is effective is open to debate, but clearly it was not intended for a young man who has triumphed over tragedy and dreams of one day joining the NBA.
©2003 Community News Group
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