Report on immigration hearing for Rabih Haddad & family, 7/9/02

The hearing was open and the courtroom, with approximately 30 spectators, was full. Three rows were reserved for the media. Most print and television sources from Detroit and Ann Arbor were present. Approximately 50 supporters of the Haddad family were at the building, although only 15 or 20 could fit in the courtroom. The others held signs in front of the Brewery Park Building (in the rain) during the proceedings.

The hearing only lasted about ten minutes. Rabih's lawyer, Ashraf Nubani, presented an application for political asylum on behalf of Rabih. Rabih was not in the courtroom but was present via closed circuit television from the Monroe County Jail. Judge Elizabeth Hacker had Rabih swear to the authenticity of his asylum application and swear that the application was not "frivolous."

The judge then noticed that the application had been filed using a form that expired June 30th. She gave the lawyers (Nubani and Noel Saleh) until 3 pm today to re-file the application on the updated form.

The judge set the asylum trial date for August 27 at 9 am. She waived the presence of Salma's and Rabih's children.

Noel Saleh requested relief for Salma and the children in the form of voluntary departure, should Rabih's asylum be denied. The judge accepted that request.

Ashraf Nubani then requested a reconsideration of bond for Rabih. The judge replied that this setting was inappropriate for that request. Nubani stated he just wanted the judge to be aware that the bond redetermination request had been filed.

The judge then adjourned the hearing and the lawyers requested to speak with Rabih over the closed circuit television. Nubani informed him of the paperwork formality and Saleh said he was coming to see Rabih. We, in the peanut gallery, requested that the camera be turned toward the audience so that Rabih could see his supporters were there. He smiled and waved back at us.

In the lobby of the building, the lawyers and Salma answered questions for the media. Check your local news sources tonight. I saw the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Ann Arbor News, Fox 2, UPN 50/62, ABC channel 7, and possibly others. Alexia Smokler was also present, representing Congressman John Conyers.

Those of us who had been in the hearing then went out front and joined the picketers. TV reporters interviewed several of us.

As we were leaving, I jokingly asked the security guard at the gate--who had been looking skittish the whole time--if he would miss us. He gave me a blank look. Then I told him, it's okay, we'll be back. He gave me another blank look. A few minutes later he motioned Salma over to him to tell her how sorry he was about the whole affair and to offer his support.

Anyone else who was present, feel free to add to this report.

Phillis Engelbert

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