Former Army specialist fighting deportation



Posted on January 12, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 12 at 6:44 PM

SEATTLE -- Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, his wife Ann and their many devoted followers and supporters will have to wait another three months at least for a hearing on his immigration status.

A Federal Immigration judge on Wednesday delayed the proceedings to give the Pakistani-born, former National Guard and U.S. Army Specialist, time to find a new legal team.

It's a tangled case. Chaudhry is under a deportation order, despite living in the U.S. since the late 90's and being married to his U.S.-born wife, Anne, for ten years; despite his hours of community service and his years in the military and what he claims is an honorable discharge from the Army due to back injuries in 1996.

He has sued to remain in the country, seeking to have his case heard in Federal District Court and in the 9th Circuit Court. But so far, he has had no luck with the civil lawsuit. It was dismissed in a summary judgment by a federal judge in Spokane last fall.

The government, it seems, doesn't believe Mr. Chaudhry is the innocent, good Samaritan he claims to be. The court documents from that case cite a series of misrepresentations about his past, examples of fraud and the use of passports and at least one credit card belonging to other people. They detail his alleged use of aliases, his arrest and conviction on fraud charges in Australia years ago and his subsequent denial of that criminal history when applying for visas and jobs.

Supporters I spoke with either didn't know the details of the past accusations, understand but discount the reports of criminal activity and lying on immigration documents, or simply believe Chaudhry when he says in every case there was a mistake or miscommunication and he has done nothing wrong.

Helen Jaccard with the group Veterans for Peace wonders, "Why would a veteran who was injured, not necessarily in combat but while he was in the military, why are they deporting him? He has a wife who is a U.S. citizen. He's been here for a really long time. I don't understand what's going on here!"

Chaudhry says he's being railroaded.

"I have no idea! Why was Jesus crucified? Jesus was crucified. Remember he got a trial. I didn't even get a trial," he said.

Chaudhry didn't get his day in court Wednesday, either. His legal team with the Seattle firm Gibbs Houston Pauw wants to withdraw from the case, citing difficulties in communicating with their client.

The immigration hearing will be postponed until April, while Chaudhry waits to see if the 9th Circuit Court will hear his civil suit.