Pakistani immigrant Faisal Ulvie, his American wife Nadine Young Ulvie and their lawyer Elizabeth Ouyang joins us in our firehouse studio to discuss their case. A judge will decide today whether Faisal must leave his family and return to Pakistan to apply for a visa–a process which would take at least 10 years. [includes rush transcript]
We bring you a case we have been following for nearly two years. It is the story of Faisal Ulvie, a Pakistani immigrant who came so close to being deported he was on the airport tarmac when INS authorities received a cell phone call from a federal judge ordering them to pull Faisal off the plane.
Ulvie traveled to the United States eight years ago and applied for political asylum. But after he missed an asylum hearing, he was issued deportation orders.
Ulvie remained in the country and married a US citizen, Nadine Young. He helped raise Nadine"s two children. Three years ago, they had a child of their own named Shaheen.
In November 2002, Faisal Ulvie was picked up by the INS. Two months later the Ulvie family won a major victory. Federal Immigration Judge Patricia Rohan gave Faisal permission to file a marriage petition with the INS.
The marriage interview took place in April of this year. Now the judge will decide whether Faisal must adjust his immigration status or return to Pakistan and apply for a visa to come back to his family.
- Faisal Ulvie, Pakistani man who traveled to the United States six years ago for a martial arts competition. He decided to stay in the country and apply for political asylum. But after he missed an asylum hearing, he received deportation orders. He remained in the country. His is married a US citizen.
- Nadine Young Ulvie, wife of Faisal Ulvie, a detained Pakistani immigrant.
- Elizabeth Ouyang , attorney for the Ulvie family.
AMY GOODMAN: We welcome Faisal Ulvie here along with Nadine Young, his wife, and Elizabeth Ouyang, who is their lawyer from the beginning of this trial, trial and tribulation. Faisal Ulvie, let’s begin with you. Today is the day you go to court at 3:00 in the afternoon. What is at stake here?
FAISAL ULVIE: Almost everything. Supposed to appear in front of the judge today. I’m very grateful to be here, because today where I am today with my family is because of her only. If it was not up to her, I wouldn’t be talking with you. I wouldn’t be with my family, it’s been two years. Every time I see her in the court, she looks at me, she knows that everything is okay, that something went wrong. But it’s hardly she can do anything because it’s just a procedure of law that she has to put me through. As you just discussed two months ago, we appeared in front of INS. And we had a green card interview. It only lasted a half minute. It took ten minutes but they only asked me one question. It should be enough to satisfy them that everything is okay. But again, I have to thank her for every moment that I have been in this country. That without her permission, anything — nothing would have been possible right now. I hope today when I go to her in front of her that’s when she let me file for a status of petition for the United States. She could have denied right then and there that I have to go back to my country, but she chose to do it here on the hardship of my family. I have a wife and kids. I think she understands the situation that I am in, too, and I cannot separate a father from his kids. Everybody does mistakes, and I think I’m paying my dues, and I think she knows it too and the INS should already know it, too. But I hope today that at 3:00, it’s everything in my favor with my family, and, you know, by the will of God, let’s see what happens.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Elizabeth, what are the constraints that the judge is under? What are the legal alternatives that she has in this case?
ELIZABETH OUYANG: The judge has the discretion to grant Faisal permission to adjust his status in the United States, but she will be weighing his prior immigration violations against the strong and dire need for family unification here. We are talking about a family of five. We are talking about a wife and three young children, ages 11, 9 and 3. This family needs stability. This family needs to be together. The overwhelming evidence in support of Faisal as a good father and husband is stacked full. They just celebrated father’s day. The son just had his graduation and Faisal was there for both. I believe strongly that Judge Rohan understands the importance of family reunification and unity here. This family will be irrevocably destroyed if they’re forced to be separated.
AMY GOODMAN: If the judge says that Faisal must return to Pakistan, to then apply to come back in, what would that mean? Could he go and come back in a week?
ELIZABETH OUYANG: It’s essentially a death knell on this family, because if he has to leave the country, there is a minimum ten-year bar because he had overstayed his visa. There is a waiver available, but the practicality given the climate we are in, post-9/11 and the fact that he would be in Pakistan and for us here in the United States to have to negotiate with the United States Consulate in Pakistan to grant the waiver would be a phenomenal, monumental uphill battle. I would ask that, you know, people recognize what this family has been through in the past two years. You know, Faisal in his own words said to me, being detained for two months, he could deal with that, but what he couldn’t deal with was being separated from his wife and children. I’m really hoping and praying that the judge will see the merits of this case and really put family unity and the principles of family unity above all else here.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Nadine Young, I’d like to ask you, you have been sitting here first of all listening to the case of Ansar Mahmoud and what he has gone through in the last three years, you’re thoughts in terms of what you and your family have gone through over the last several years?
NADINE YOUNG ULVIE: Listening to him on the phone reminded me of what my husband used to say when he was arrested. It’s so hard because you wonder what will be — what life will be tomorrow and listening to him saying that he has a family of nine to take care of, and my husband is the same way. He has a mother and two brothers who he supported. His father passed away when he was young. He has a family here. So, he is losing both ways. My children are losing both ways. This is just hard. It’s nerve-wracking. I just hope that today is the end, and we can really come — it’s just hard.
AMY GOODMAN: The judge will make a decision at 3:00 today. We’ll break and come back to talk about this case. The dramatic moment when Judge Rohan two years ago when Faisal Ulvie was actually on the airport tarmac called with her cell phone to say that he should be removed from the plane, that he should not be deported.
NADINE YOUNG ULVIE: I’m eternally grateful for that. She gave us the opportunity.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking with the Young Ulvie family, Nadine Young Ulvie and Faisal Ulvie as well as their attorney, Elizabeth Ouyang. We’ll be back in a minute. We are with the Young Ulvie family — Nadine Young, Faisal Ulvie and their attorney. 3:00 today in a New York court, they will go before a judge, Patricia Rohan, and she will decide the fate of this family, whether it will remain together or whether Faisal Ulvie will be forced out of the country and sent back to Pakistan. The second part of the story two years ago, after the immigration authorities broke into the apartment, took Faisal Ulvie away and put him in a detention facility in New Jersey, Nadine Young Ulvie not knowing where he was, got a lawyer. They finally found where Faisal was and that last dramatic night when Faisal, you phoned to the family and said, "I’m not sure, but I think I’m being deported. They’re telling us to put on civilian clothes." You both raced to the detention facility, and saw at 3:00 in the morning, the bus pull up that said Immigration and Naturalization Service, and these men in shackles being brought onto this bus. You prevented the deportation of one of the men, Faisal Ulvie, who is here with us today, Elizabeth Ouyang by racing to court, with Nadine racing home and calling congress members. What happened in the court? How did Patricia Rohan the judge in this case, stop the deportation order?
ELIZABETH OUYANG: She was phenomenal. It was an emergency deportation order. A judge could have said, you know, ’I’m busy. I’m too full. I have no time to take this case.’ She could have said, 'I want to wait until I get the file.' Meanwhile, minutes — precious minutes were ticking. She immediately took the request. She reviewed it. She called me in, you know, and she could tell there was frantic on my face. She asked me to calm down. I told her, I said, your honor, you know, he’s literally on the way to the airport. I said, you know, "please — you know, we need you to sign this. There’s a family in United States, wife and children here." You know, after she signed it, I said, "your honor, that’s not enough. We have no place to fax it to. You know, he’s on the way to the airport. The deportation officer is waiting for your phone call. He has instructed me he is under orders. They’re proceeding at planned, and until he receives the call from an immigration judge saying that she or he is signed on the order to stay the deportation, they’re going forward as planned." And so, she immediately put her clerk on to try to reach the deportation officer and his line was busy. So, I went out in the hallway to try to reach him, you know and I thought Nadine was on the phone with him to clear the line. So, after a few more minutes, he calls back to Bobby Khan, Coney Island Avenue Project’s who was on the line with me. I said, "stay on the line, the judge is trying to reach you." I raced down the hallway, and it’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny then, a security guard had just turned the corner and he said, "no cell phones allowed in the courtroom." I started running, and I had no time to talk to the security officer, I yelled back "it’s for the judge." He chased me into the courtroom. Then the judge sees me running into courtroom. She had already started another case. She immediately jumps off the bench, comes down to the railing grabs the phone from me, and said, this is Patricia A. Rohan, Immigration Judge, Executive Office of Immigration in New York. I’m ordering that you please take Faisal Ulvie off the plane." He was literally on the tarmac about to be placed on the plane. It was amazing. I cannot thank Judge Rohan enough for her expeditious handling of this. She acted judicially and expeditiously. This is before any publicity was given on this case, before any congress person had intervened.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Nadia Velasquez.
ELIZABETH OUYANG: The congress member interviewed after the order was signed to request INS that is to allow Faisal to stay because of being married to a United States Citizen, which was important for what followed later to get the case reopened. It gave — Judge Rohan’s immediate and prompt action gave me faith in the system. The system that would not listen before, but the judicial system listened when we tried to talk to immigration at the jail, on the phone, begging and pleading there’s a mistake here, he shouldn’t be deported, he’s married to a United States Citizen, there’s US children here. This invisible person who drove that white bus with that green lettering, immigration and naturalization service never — never — I begged the prison guards to let him speak to me. The prison guard came back and said, he will not speak with you. They’re under orders to take him. So, this system that will not address people as human beings failed, but the judicial system did not fail here. It has restored my faith in the judicial system, and I hope today again that will be reaffirmed.
AMY GOODMAN: How are the kids dealing with this? Do they know what is at stake today, especially Devon, your oldest son. How old is he now?
NADINE YOUNG ULVIE: He’s going to be 11 on the ninth of July. Well, they know that today is an important day and decides their father’s fate. They are nervous. They’re very nervous.
AMY GOODMAN: Would it matter if people are in the courthouse, if people are interested here in the New York area, it’s a national show. We broadcast around the country, but where is this case being heard?
ELIZABETH OUYANG: It’s at 26th federal plaza today. — it’s on the 12th floor, courtroom 16, judge rowan’s courtroom. It is an open hearing, and we welcome anyone to come.
AMY GOODMAN: and it’s at 3:00 this afternoon.
ELIZABETH OUYANG: It’s moved up to 2:30. It’s been moved up to 2:30.
AMY GOODMAN: You had your marriage interview. How did that go?
NADINE YOUNG ULVIE: Well. Very well.
FAISAL ULVIE: The interviewer, the guy’s name was Valentine. He stood over there ten minutes reading the documentation, the big file. I mean, he just asked me a question, one question, a simple question that where was my daughter born and where was I? I told him, I was there. I am the father. I told him the medical center Shaheen was in and what time she was born.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Shaheen who is three now.
FAISAL ULVIE: "Same as your name," I made a joke. She was a valentine baby. He laughed and closed it and said, "you have nothing to worry about." He was satisfied. We said, ’there’s nothing there for me to ask because everything is here, the pictures and documents are talking." There’s been so many years that if he needs more evidence of that documentation, he says it’s good. I mean, —
AMY GOODMAN: Last words?
FAISAL ULVIE: I mean, everything is okay according to everybody, but I can’t trust nobody right now, because, you know, there’s a system as I said that I have to go through. So this is the last step, I hope today, 3:00. This the is final hurdle that I have to jump over. In the faith of god, I’m, a Muslim, like everybody says, there’s only one god for everybody. I know there is nothing better that is not supposed to be happening to me, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. You have to be the right path that he has put me on to, and I hope, Judge Rohan and the district attorneys who had interviewed me several times, they already know the situation of the case. It will just take a couple of minutes and give the word that is in favor of me, my family and my kids.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us today. Again, that’s today at 3:00 eastern standard time at 26 federal plaza on the 12th floor, the court of Judge Patricia Rohan, room…
ELIZABETH OUYANG: Courtroom 16.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much. Faisal Ulvie, Nadine Young Ulvie and Elizabeth Ouyang, their attorney.