Friday, August 08, 2003

ANSAR MAHSOOD
This is the story of Ansar Mahsood. He's a Pakistani immigrant, who was detained in the post 9/11-immigrant sweep. He's came here for the same reason so many other immigrants came to America. Leaving his land, coming to the land of oppertunity--not to blow up buildings or hijack planes--but to send money back home, so they will be able to survive. He loves this country, and the "most beautiful thing," he said, was that one Pizza parlor payed him more than the other.

Before his arrest, he said in a recent prison interview, he was sending about 40% of his income home to Punjab. His family purchased a refrigerator and a water heater for its two-room home; a color television too. His sisters wore new dresses.

But, Mahmood said, "I don't have money now.... How can I send them anything? ... Their dream is finished."

He turned 26 on Monday, his second birthday behind bars. He keeps a small package of family photos with him in prison.

While he was growing up, his family was very poor. His father had to retire as an army soldier because of failing health. The nine children slept on box springs. They shared a bicycle to get around.
He was haressed after his arrest and spent 18 months in jail. He was cleared of terrorists intentions, but because he helped 3 illegal immigrants, the Feds used a statute usually used against large immigrant smuggling operations in the Southwest--harboring illegals.

The sad part is this: according to court transcripts he was struggling with his English. Incredibly unfortunate. And to me--unfair and a case of prejudice.

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