Circuit Denies Habeas, Chides Homeland Security

     CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit upheld an immigration judge’s decision to detain a Qatar man as a condition of his voluntary departure, but criticized the Department of Homeland Security for its “less than forthright efforts to keep (the petitioner) detained.”

     Though the court affirmed denial of Mohamed Al-Siddiqi’s petition for habeas corpus, it came down on the department for trying to “second-guess” the immigration judge’s determination that Al-Siddiqi did not pose a serious terrorist threat.
     Al-Siddiqi had admittedly overstayed his student visa, but claimed he had to drop classes because of a medical problem. The FBI, however, said Al-Siddiqi was linked to an unspecified network that posed a national security threat. In its letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI cited vague “suspicious” activity, including that Al-Siddiqi “tells people” that he is from Saudi Arabia instead of Qatar.
     Al-Siddiqi’s friends tried to post bond four times, but the department refused payment. The petitioner’s bond was later raised to $60,000, and the government again refused his attempt to post bond.
     When both his asylum petition and removal appeal failed, the immigration judge ordered a voluntary departure, but refused to release him from U.S. custody. The judge said he had “little confidence” that Al-Siddiqi would comply with the terms of voluntary departure.
     Judge Evans upheld Al-Siddiqi’s continued detention, but stressed that the decision had nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security’s backdoor efforts to keep him there.

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