Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Washington Post reports on an interesting deportation case. According to the Post, Department of Homeland Security calls Ibrahim Parlak a terrorist linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and is trying to deport him to Turkey. But to high-profile supporters across the political spectrum, Parlak is a benevolent community leader and popular restaurateur in this resort in southwest Michigan. On Sunday, soccer moms, business owners and conservative activists gathered at Parlak's Cafe Gulistan to wish Parlak well in Monday's federal appeals court hearing on his immigration case. Whatever the specifics of his involvement with the Kurdish independence movement, they said, they see him as a symbol of the American dream.
Political and civic leaders are backing Ibrahim Parlak. Parlak has also gained public support from film critic Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin, novelist Andrew Greeley, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Levin and Upton have introduced private bills in Congress asking that Parlak be granted permanent residency. Former U.S. attorney John A. Smietanka and Anne L. Buckleitner, a former assistant general counsel for national security for the FBI, offered their legal services after hearing about Parlak's case.
Parlak gained asylum in the United States in 1992 after serving time in a Turkish prison on a conviction of "separatism." Documents from a Turkish military court also allege that he was a PKK member and was present during a border skirmish in which a guard was killed. Parlak maintains that he was involved only with the civil and cultural arm of the Kurdish independence movement. In July 2004, the Department of Homeland Security sought to deport him and placed him in detention, alleging that he did not mention his conviction in Turkey on his 1993 green-card application and 1998 naturalization application. The government also alleges that he was a member of the PKK, which the U.S. government designated a terrorist organization in 1997, five years after Parlak was granted asylum.