HLF Convictions - Immigration Collateral
by Bill West • Dec 4, 2008 at 11:38 am
Wednesday's decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to uphold a landmark civil anti-terrorism judgment in the Boim v. HLF, et al. case is another significant victory in the war on terrorism. In quick summary, the Court ruled that U.S.-based contributions to Hamas through charitable fronts were liable under Federal anti-terrorism laws. The specific issue of culpability for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was remanded back to the U.S. District Court for consideration on what appears to be a legal technicality and that resolution will be interesting in view of the recent Dallas criminal conviction against the organization.
Innovative utilization of the judicial system - within the legitimate parameters of the law - to target those who commit terrorism or those who support terrorists is yet another viable arrow in the quiver. Along those lines, extending the Government's victory in the Dallas HLF criminal case further should be considered. We have already witnessed discussion concerning the potential effect of the case outcome on various unindicted co-conspirators. Consider now the possible immigration ramifications of the convictions.
Potential immigration issues may relate to individual case defendants who may be aliens or naturalized U.S. citizens. Assuming the convictions are upheld on appeal, any alien defendants so convicted will presumably face ultimate removal (deportation) proceedings as aliens convicted of terrorism-related felonies. Any defendants who are naturalized citizens may not necessarily be off the hook. If their naturalization occurred within the time frame of the indicted "bad acts" the Government will be able to seek revocation of their naturalization and then initiate removal proceedings. Interestingly, if any such naturalization occurred within the past 10 years (the statute of limitations for naturalization crimes), there may have been an element of fraud involved in that naturalization process. A naturalization applicant is required to disclose to the Government information concerning all their organizational affiliations and memberships. Clearly, such affiliations and memberships linked to terrorist support would have been disqualifying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. If these conditions exist relative to any of the individual defendants, they may be subject to further prosecution for naturalization fraud.
Beyond this, the organization HLF itself was convicted. The indictment charges bad acts that go back as far as January 1995 (Count 11, charging Conspiracy to Provide Funds, Goods and Services to a Specially Designated Terrorist). Quite arguably, any foreign national...any alien...who worked for or who was a member of the HLF from January 1995 onward would be subject to removal proceedings as an alien who was involved in terrorist support activities [8 USC 1182(a)(3) & 8 USC 1227(a)(4)]. Any visa petitions filed by HLF on behalf of aliens from January 1995 should be reviewed for possible revocation, since HLF would have likely made false statements concerning the nature of its organizational activities on such visa petitions. The alien beneficiaries of such visa petitions would then have improperly obtained immigration status from any issued visa and would be subject to status revocation and removal.
At least one such alien was the beneficiary of an HLF religious worker visa petition. Abdel Jabbar Hamdan, a California-based Palestinian who originally entered the U.S. in 1979 on a student visa, was ultimately ordered deported in 1993 after having his various claims for relief from deportation denied. Hamdan, who was not detained at the time, appealed that deportation order to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the appeal went on for years (circa 1999) before the Feds became interested again. In the meantime, HLF filed that religious worker visa petition for Hamdan in 1997. The Government denied the petition since Hamdan was actually working for HLF as a fundraiser.
It was around this time HLF came onto the Government's radar screen as a Hamas fundraising front. Hamdan, while still fighting deportation through various legal appeal efforts, was arrested by ICE and detained based on his HLF/Hamas fundraising activities. Hamdan, with no shortage of the usual Islamist apologist support, fought his detention through habeas corpus proceedings and won his release pending further appeal of his deportation case, where it currently resides in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Curiously, with the conviction of HLF for felony fundraising for the terrorist organization Hamas, it would appear the U.S. Government would be in a position to revisit the Hamdan deportation appeal. The introduction of "new" evidence is actually allowed in such proceedings in certain circumstances. The Government could arguably also revisit Hamdan's detention. Given the significant change of evidentiary circumstances in the Hamdan case presented by the HLF conviction, might these efforts be forthcoming?Clearly, the Dallas HLF case presents potentialities beyond that Dallas courtroom.