A permit allowing him to stay with his American wife and work legally wasn’t enough to keep Adnan Asif Parveen from landing in detention.
By Roque Planas
PORT ISABEL, Texas — Despite holding a permit entitling him to work in the United States, Adnan Asif Parveen found himself lying on the cold floor of a Border Patrol detention facility with an aluminum sheet for a blanket.
Even if he hadn’t been crammed into a gated room with three dozen migrants recently arrested at the border, it would have been difficult to sleep. His wife didn’t know where he was. And he had barely eaten. For the six days he spent in Border Patrol’s custody last month, he said the only food he received was a pork sandwich every eight hours. He explained that as a Muslim, he had to refuse. When the guards offered nothing else, he picked off the meat and ate just the bread.
Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns. A spokeswoman referred HuffPost to the agency’s detention standards, which require its officers to “remain cognizant of a detainee’s religious or other dietary restrictions.”
A few days after Asif’s arrest, two officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to interview him about possible terrorist ties, he said. They took his phone and searched his contact list and social media. “They asked if at the mosque they say anything against the USA government,” Asif told HuffPost. “I said, no, the mosque is where you go to pray.”
It’s unclear what could’ve prompted the questioning, other than Asif’s national origin and religion. ICE declined to comment on the case. Asif has no criminal record in the United States, where he’s lived since 2014, according to his lawyer Cathy Potter. He says he has no record in Spain, where he was raised, or in Pakistan, where he was born.
Several times over Asif’s six days in Border Patrol’s custody, agents presented him with paperwork authorizing his deportation to Spain and asked if he wanted to sign. The last time, Asif was visibly upset. When one of the agents asked why, Asif said he was worried about his wife back in Ohio, who struggles with her health. The agent allowed him to make a five-minute phone call. When she answered, Asif found she had flown to Texas days earlier to look for him. After he hung up, he flatly refused to sign his deportation order.
“I wanted to be with my wife,” Asif said. “And I said no — I’m not signing my deportation. I’m not going back like that.”
Asif is now locked up at an ICE detention center in Port Isabel in South Texas, his work permit set to expire this month. But his arrest and looming possibility of deportation highlight how the bureaucratic complexity of the immigration enforcement system and peculiar scrutiny cast upon Muslims can jeopardize the status of immigrants ― even if they hold documents allowing them to work here.
“This just blows my mind,” Potter, Asif’s lawyer, told HuffPost. “He’s not a danger to his community. He’s certainly not a flight risk. He’s got a wife and he’s devoted to her. Yet he’s detained and ICE refuses to release him.”