Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, a decorated disabled American veteran, is the victim of a witch hunt that has been ongoing since the 9/11 attacks. Chaudhry is being deported to Pakistan, where he will “inevitably be murdered by the Taliban for his service in the US Army,” says Seth Manzel, executive director of G.I. Voice. Chaudhry came to the US legally over 13 years ago and has been married to a native-born citizen for nearly ten years. The suit Chaudhry and his wife filed against the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in US district court to press for his citizenship was dismissed on October 26, 2010, on summary judgement, without any trial or opportunity to further present their circumstances.
Chaudhry qualifies for citizenship on multiple bases, and there are no legal grounds to deny him citizenship. He qualified for and filed an application to become a US citizen under the military naturalization program in 2003. INS claimed they lost the application, so he applied again in 2004. The military naturalization program requires the US government to provide expedited processing for citizenship applications for individuals in the armed forces. Chaudhry’s military awards include a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, an Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device and the Army Service Ribbon.
Chaudhry has never broken any US laws. In addition to his military service, he qualifies for citizenship based on his marriage to a US citizen. Before the injuries he sustained in service to our nation left him in a wheelchair, he was an avid community volunteer. He served thousands of hours as a general volunteer and youth coordinator for the American Red Cross, as an unpaid volunteer for the fire department – carrying a pager twenty-four-seven and responding to fire emergencies – and contributed his time to Habitat for Humanity and many other community and civic organizations.
The Chaudhry’s have two children and four grandchildren; they do not wish for their family and friends to be ripped apart by an uncaring, inefficient federal bureaucracy acting within repressive measures.
Chaudhry was scheduled for a deportation hearing at the immigration court in Seattle on January 12, 2011, and, at the time of this writing, he had no legal representation. The couple reports that Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Washington) staff, Lindsay Herbst, often sends them an email saying to “hang in there” and that they are “working on it” – a behavior characteristic of many of our top politicians for the last seven to eight years. The Chaudry’s have spent tens of thousands of dollars in this struggle for justice, not to mention other costs to the couple in lost opportunity. “Our physical, spiritual, mental and financial capabilities have been torn asunder and ground to nothingness by this great nation we both love and have served so much and continue to serve,” says Ann Chaudhry.
You can see a short video clip of Chaudhry’s speech at the Interfaith Forum on Immigration in Washington, DC at www.justice4chaudhry.info. The Chaudry’s are calling for the community to support them by making phone calls and writing emails and letters to Murray’s offices in DC and Seattle.
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