“Not Without My Daddy”

By Dana Inayah Cann, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Tarpon, Florida–In 1979, Mohamed Jamal Krazoun came to the United States on a student visa from Syria. By 1983, Krazoun was married and given a Conditional Permanent Residency. Now, two marriages and several petitions later for permanent residency, Krazoun, 46, sits inside of the Krome North Service Processing Center in Miami, Florida, awaiting deportation.

“My husband’s case is complicated,” said Janice Menapace Gittino, Krazoun’s wife.

“He has been in immigration litigation for years, appealing and re-appealing, trying to get someone to listen to evidence instead of act on speculation.”

The speculation began when Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) accused Krazoun of getting married simply to become a U.S. citizen.

His first marriage lasted 1 ½ years, his second five years. He has been married to Gittino since 2001, and together they have a four year old daughter, Samia.

With each marriage, Krazoun filed a petition for permanent residency which was denied.

Immigration has interviewed Krazoun and his two brothers about his marriages. His second wife, scheduled to be interviewed at a hearing, failed to show in support. Instead, she sent a letter stating that she was no longer wanted to be involved in Krazoun’s petition.

‘He has no criminal convictions,” said Gittino. “His only offense was offending his previous wives who withdrew their immigration petitions for him, leading immigration officials to suspect marriage fraud.”

According to Gittino, Krazoun’s marriages ended due to cultural and value differences.

Since being married, Gittino and Krazoun have filed appealed petitions. In 2002, Krazoun lost his petition for his appeal. In May of the same year, Krazoun received a notice of rejection for petition. By September, Krazoun was denied by the Board of Appeals. In 2006, Gittino and Krazoun filed an asylum case with a new lawyer that is still pending.

This year, Krazoun was given a notice to report to Tampa Immigration for deportation to Syria on March 15 2007. With all of the petitions filed, Krazoun didn’t understand why he was to be deported so he attempted to find out why.

On Saturday evening, March 10, 2007, Krazoun’s attempts may have come to an end. A male and female dressed in street clothing arrived at Krazoun’s condo, yelling and questioning him about his car in the parking lot. They then tried to pull Krazoun out of his home. Not understanding what was going on, Krazoun was able to break away from their grasp, and closed the door.

As Krazoun ran to his bedroom to inform his wife of what was going, the two outside were banging constantly at the door for Krazoun loud enough for the neighbors to hear. As Gittino tried to figure out what to do, her husband went to open the door.

“The yelling began again,” said Gittino. “The man and woman kept yelling about Jamal’s (she calls him by his middle name) car and saying ‘Is that your white Toyota in the parking lot? You need to come with us’. This went on for some time, and the man would periodically grab Jamal and try to drag him out the door, while the woman assisted. I went to the open door and held on to Jamal, and said repeatedly ‘Who are you people? What do you want?’ They kept yelling about the car again, and so I thought they were condo people or more likely friends of condo residents who were upset about something Jamal had done with his car.”

Finally, the unidentified woman told Gittino that she was the police, but refused to show any identification. Gittino let go of her husband, so that she could go and dial 911.

On the 911 recording, before Gittino can respond to the operator’s greeting, the unidentified man who tried to pulled Krazoun out of his home is heard telling Krazoun “You need to come outside right now,” as Krazoun it saying that he does not understand what’s going on. He also tells Krazoun that he is the police. As Gittino tells the 911 operator that two people were trying to come into her home and are trying to take her husband away by physical force her voice changes to a high pitched tone. “HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP! PLEASE! I don‘t understand what they‘re doing here!”

Realizing that Gittino had called 911, the unidentified woman showed a badge showing that she was a deportation officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Gittino then allowed the woman to come in and gave the officer the phone so she could her what the officer had to say to the operator. The office then told the 911 operator that they were there to take her husband into custody and that the husband and wife were just “excited.” She then told the 911 operator to disregard the phone call.

In a report received by Congress Bilirakis’ office in response to Gittino claim, an Ice report claimed that Krazoun invited them inside the house before Gittino called 911 which Gittino says is untrue. The report also claims that Krazoun “began swinging his arms against the agents in his home.”

Once ICE took Gittino’s husband away, she called 911 again, complaining about the treatment given to her husband and herself.

According to Gittino, the first 911 recording seems to be edited. She believes that parts of the recording are missing to make it sound as though the situation was not as serious as Gittino says. Gittino has the 911 call log stating how long the call was, but the tape itself is shorter than the call log.

After the first phone call to 911, Gittino says that the man who still did not show his badge, “violently lunged at Jamal, and threw himself on Jamal’s neck, slamming his arm with the considerable weight of his body behind the blow over the back of Jamal’s head and forcing Jamal’s neck to bend violently and his head to crash to his knees and then forcing his whole doubled-over body to the floor, banging against the coffee and computer tables in front of the couch.” “ICE basically attacked me in attacking my husband in my home and compelling me to defend him in a sustained manner because they refused to show ID and their behavior was so bizarre.”

Hearing her daughter crying as the man continued to use force with Krazoun, Gittino ran to her daughter’s room to comfort her. Upon returning to the living room, ICE had taken a handcuffed Krazoun away in an unmarked car as his daughter stood looking out the window with her mother yelling “Daddy I love you!”

Since his arrest, Krazoun has been taken to the hospital for examination due to the physical force of the deportation officers. According to Gittino, upon Krazoun’s arrival he was verbally abused, not allowed to shower and was made to sleep on the floor for the first few days presumably as punishment for resisting the agents’ arrest. To this day, Krazoun has been surviving on beans and rice. According to Gittino, her husband has also been served expired milk.

Acknowledging that it was not yet March 15, Gittino did not understand why her husband had been arrested. “We and our lawyer had been in contact with the INS, and since the lawyer had filed additional documents as demanded by INS/ICE, we certainly did not expect that ICE would come to our home and attempt to physically and violently apprehend him, and that they would do so without identifying themselves until compelled to by my call to 911.

Since the arrest, Gittino has tried to get in contact with Florida’s Senators and her Representative with no response. Gittino has also filed reports of abuse with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

“I pray that some good will come out of our suffering,” said Gittino.