‘L.A. eight’ case another government failure

Last week, a federal immigration judge dismissed the government’s case against two Palestinian men arrested with six other residents because of their alleged connections to Palestinian terrorists 20 years ago.

Judge Einhorn, of the Los Angeles Immigration Court, executed an order to terminate the deportation proceedings against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, long time residents of the United States.

In his decision, Einhorn said the government’s conduct in the case was “an embarrassment to the rule of law” that left “a festering wound on” Hamide and Shehadeh, who have been fighting this legal battle for 20 years.

Well, by now you may ask, “Why in the world should I care about this?” Well, the good news is you don’t really have to worry about it until you or your family is in that situation. On second thought, maybe you should care about it, because the government has been using your money for the past 20 years trying to deport two men who have done nothing wrong.

The ruling is a clear recognition by the court of the unjust suffering of the respondents and their families for more than 20 years, not to mention the complete falsehood of the allegations that Hamide and Shehadeh provided support to terrorist groups, material or otherwise.

None of the L.A. eight were ever charged with a crime, either, and the federal court repeatedly held that their activities were protected by the First Amendment. Nonetheless, the Department of Justice relentlessly pursued deportation for Shehadeh and Hamide. When provisions of the McCarthy era McCarran-Walter act were ruled unconstitutional in 1990, the government retroactively applied the Immigration Act of 1990 to continue the effort to deport them. The government once again brought similar charges against the two men under provisions of the Patriot Act of 2001.

I hope by now you asked the question, “But why would our government do such a thing?” Well, here is a hint: Both Hamide and Shehadeh were politically active and lawfully participated in demonstrations, helped Palestinians with human rights and medical needs and raised money for hospitals, youth clubs and day-care centers.

Since the 20-years-long attempt to deport these two individuals for political activities that are clearly protected rights if Hamide and Shehade were U.S. citizens failed, let’s hope that the government will now move on and put some effort on real terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers, and not political activists who disagree with them.

At some point in our lives we must start questioning things that authorities do in our society, and I suggest we start that soon, or else we will all be charged with something. Although I don’t know what they might be, I am sure the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are working very hard to draft those charges.