Rally to Stop the January Deportation of Imam Zoubir
A rally to stop the January 24th, 2011 deportation of famous Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi was held last Friday in front of the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building located at 126 Northpoint Drive, Houston, Texas 77060.
His sons Ilyas and Omar Bouchikhi, aged 13 and 11, left school early to attend the protest on behalf of their father, Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi, who last year was detained for five months, was arrested once again Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 evening.
His wife Mounira Belhacel-Bouchikhi said that their attorney, Brian Bates, has been working to reverse her husbandâ€™s January 24th deportation order before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. She said the family is devastated by his arrest almost two weeks prior to the deadline.
â€œWe have a deportation notice saying he will be deported on the 24th… Weâ€™ve tried to look for our rights but at the end, weâ€™re going to accept it. If heâ€™s going to be deported, itâ€™s fine, heâ€™s going to be deported, but unfortunately yesterday they just come and picked him up. He was detained again for no reason, no explanation.â€ Rally organizers had these points to present:
– A message to our fellow citizens of Houston: Help us keep this family together. Keep these young kids with their father Zoubir Bouchikhi;
– Your neighbor, a Muslim religious teacher and leader named Zoubir Bouchikhi has been in the United States for the past 13 years serving both his faith community, and the community-at-large;
– Imam Bouchikhi arrived legally in the United States in December 1997, and applied for his â€œGreen Cardâ€ in 2003. In February 2007, he received a notice from the government that his already approved I-360 was being revoked, and on December 17, 2008, Imam Bouchikhi – a law-abiding man with no criminal history – was locked up in a detention center as an â€œarriving alienâ€. He spent a total of five months in lockup before being released on bond;
– Imam Bouchikhi is well known for his social and spiritual outreach. He has been a proponent for peace, justice, tolerance, interfaith and cross cultural dialogue; he has been a staunch defender of minority and womenâ€™s right; and when necessary, he is known for his around the clock counseling for troubled youth and families;
– His stellar leader of the community is now threatened with deportation, for no justifiable reason whatsoever. Imam Bouchikhi is a family man with four children, three of whom are American born citizens (the youngest is three, the oldest is 14);
– The case of Imam Zoubir Bouchikhi is currently under appeal. Despite this, however, he has been taken back into custody and faces deportation (an even more significant family disruption) on January 24th, 2011;