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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Pakistani Doc Says Immigration Threw Him|In Jail For 9 Months Though He Had a Visa

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A Pakistani doctor says abusive immigration officials threw him in jail for 9 months though he was here legally to interview for a medical residency. Dr. Farhan Bukhari says he was denied medical attention in the Piedmont Regional Jail, which he describes as "a notorious detention facility where immigration detainees had died because of the lack of medical care."

Bukhari, 30, says he was in the United States legally "and had proper documentation of his immigration status at all times," but "hostile immigration officials" at Dulles International Airport arrested and jailed him, with insults.

In his federal complaint, Bukhari says he had come to the United States twice before without incident, to participate in medical residency programs and volunteer in hospitals. On his third trip, he says, two Customs and Border Protection officers stopped him, telling him, among other things, "When my child talks like [you], I lock her in the closet," and, "If I were in charge, I would turn away 95 percent of people coming into the U.S."

Bukhari says that despite his valid visa, he was sent to Piedmont Regional Jail, where he suffered numerous ailments, including respiratory illness due to mold, hearing loss due to gangs controlling television volume, painful infections in his stomach and chest and muscle spasms.

He says he was routinely denied antibiotics, and that his repeated requests for medical attention led to Piedmont's head nurse labeling him "a complainer," and putting him on the low-priority list for medical help.

Bukhari says he was denied the right to see an attorney, subjected to humiliating strip searches and visual body cavity searches without cause or reasonable suspicion, and that he was prevented from observing his Muslim religion by being denied visits from clerics, and that he and other Muslim detainees were not allowed to observe Ramadan.

He was imprisoned from November 2007 until September 2008, without being charged with a crime, he says.

Bukhari seeks punitive damages from the Piedmont Regional Jail Authority, and named and unnamed agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; he alleges constitutional violations.

He is represented by Sean Trainor of Kirkland Ellis.

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