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Judicial Watch • Islamic Law Helps Illegal Couple Stay In U.S.

Islamic Law Helps Illegal Couple Stay In U.S.

Islamic Law Helps Illegal Couple Stay In U.S.

MAY 13, 2010


In an unbelievable ruling, a federal appellate court has blocked the deportation of a Palestinian couple because the U.S. government failed to consider Muslim marriage customs under Sharia law.

The decision reverses both a federal judge and the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, which had determined that the Palestinian couple (Nabil and Sawsan Hassan) obtained U.S. residency illegally because they lied about their marital status to get it.

Nabil entered the U.S. in 1995 with a special visa granted to the unmarried children of legal permanent residents, in this case his mother. Sawsan entered the country on the same day with a nonimmigrant tourist visa. A month later the couple had a wedding ceremony at a Michigan mosque even though they had already been legally married in Israel. Sawson filed for legal permanent residency based on the marriage and got it a few months later.

When Nabil applied to become a U.S. Citizen in 2002, authorities discovered that he never even qualified for residency because he lied about being unmarried to obtain a visa through his mother. That means he was an inadmissible alien at the time of entry. His wife’s residency also got revoked because her status was based on her illegal immigrant husband’s.

The couple fought the deportation but an immigration judge upheld it and so did the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals. The government presented evidence that the couple had been married in Jerusalem before coming to the U.S. and therefore neither spouse qualified to be in the country. The Hassans played the Muslim card in their appeal and won.

This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit halted the deportation because the government failed to adequately rebut testimony about Muslim marriage customs. The Hassans claim that they were not officially married when they came to the U.S. because, under Islamic law, marriages involve four steps and they had only taken three in Israel.

Under Sharia law, the final step that made their marriage complete did not take place until the ceremony at the Michigan mosque. A Detroit-area imam, Mohammed Mardini, even testified as an expert witness on the Hassan’s behalf. He confirmed that indeed Islamic marriages involve four steps and each must be completed before a marriage is finalized.

The Sixth Circuit panel agreed, saying that the “the government did not offer clear and convincing evidence that petitioners had completed the steps required for a Muslim marriage under Sharia law before entering the United States.”


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