Local Imam's Life In Limbo As He Faces Deportation to Iran

July 13, 2009

Author: Jared Goyette

Source: The Miami Herald


As the political crisis in Iran turns toward a slow boil, a North Miami Beach imam is closely watching events unfold there. U.S. authorities could deport him at any moment to the Islamic republic, a country he has never visited.

Foad Farahi, 34, a doctoral student at Florida International University, will be part of a delegation meeting with staff members of Miami Democrat Kendrick Meek on Tuesday to discuss the conditions in detention centers maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. He will bring up his case, and is hoping to garner the congressman's support.

''All I am asking right now is a right to a hearing,'' Farahi said.

Farahi was born in Kuwait to an Iranian father and a Syrian mother and moved to Miami 16 years ago on a student visa.

Since Kuwait only grants citizenship to children who have a Kuwaiti father, Farahi is considered an Iranian national, despite the fact that he has never been to Iran and doesn't speak Farsi.

His problems with immigration authorities in the United States began in 2001, when he learned that he would not be able to reinstate his student visa because he had not taken enough credits in his final semester as an undergraduate. Faced with deportation to Iran, he applied for political asylum.


Farahi claims that at his asylum hearing in November of 2007, he was blindsided when a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutor offered him a deal to leave the country within 30 days, or face arrest for ''support of terrorist groups.'' Fahari said he was intimidated into withdrawing his asylum petition, and that he may have been targeted because he had refused to serve as an informant for the FBI. ICE officials have denied his accusations.