Obama May Face Tough Questions in Egypt About U.S. Immigration Law « The Washington Independent
When President Obama travels to Egypt this week, he’s likely to confront some difficult questions about U.S. immigration law — specifically, why does it allow a man acquitted of criminal charges that he supported terrorism to be tried again on essentially the same claims in immigration court?
That’s what happened to Youssef Megahed, a 23-year-old Egyptian-born engineering student from Tampa, Fla., writes Joel Millman in The Wall Street Journal. Megahed and a friend were arrested for driving with explosives in the trunk of their car in South Carolina in 2007. The men said they were the ingredients for homemade fireworks, and while Megahed’s friend pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorism, Megahed decided to fight the charges. He won. On April 3, after serving nine months in jail, he was acquitted of all criminal counts.
But three days later, Megahed was arrested again while shopping with his father at Wal-Mart. He was charged under the immigration laws as someone who the government “knows, or has reason to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage” in terrorist activity. He now faces deportation to Egypt, the country he left with his family in 1998 at age 12.
The immigration document filed by the Department of Homeland Security cites, in addition to the claims about explosives, an additional charge that “the family desktop computer” at his father’s house in Tampa contained “numerous videos, documents and an Internet search history that supports Islamic extremism, jihad against the United States, bomb making, explosive and numerous other military weapons references, all accessed over a period from early 2006 to August 3, 2007.”
The same evidence was apparently introduced in Megahed’s criminal trial, but did not convince the jury that he was guilty of supporting terrorism. But the burden of proof in immigration proceedings is lower than in criminal cases, where the government must prove the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Are you ready to convict based on someone’s Internet history? I’m not,” the foreman of the jury that acquitted Megahed told The Wall Street Journal. He and three other jurors have issued a statement protesting the second arrest by immigration authorities.
“It may be ‘legal,’ but that doesn’t make it right,” says the statement, published in the St. Petersburg Times.