NEW YORK (Oct. 3)
A United States Congressman has come to the aid of two Iranian Jews who escaped from their country and fled to New York City, only to find themselves jailed in Brooklyn, in an immigration detention center, it was reported here today.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D. N. Y.) has asked the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to release on bond the twin brothers who are now being held pending a decision on their plea for political asylum. The Congressman declined to release the names of the brothers because of fear for the safety of their family, still in Iran.
“It is disgraceful that these brothers, who fled religious and political persecution in their native Iran, are now subject to the very anti-Semitic violence they came here to escape,” Ackerman declared.
The 24-year-old Orthodox twins were detained last January when they arrived at Kennedy International Airport because they entered this country with false passports. According to a spokesman for Ackerman, one of the brothers was carrying his sister’s passport and the other brother carried a purchased passport. Both passports had been altered.
Ackerman was alerted to their fate a month ago after he received letters from some of his constituents in Queens where a cousin of the brothers resides. He immediately became involved in an effort to have them released.
The Congressman met this morning with Charles Sava, the district director of the INS, and appealed to him to have the brothers released on humanitarian grounds. He said later that Sava indicated he would hand down his decision by the end of this week. Ackerman pointed out that the false passports were the only way for the brothers to get out of Iran.
Since the twins were incarcerated they have repeatedly been victims of anti-Semitic harassment and violence, Ackerman charged. On September 25 one of the twins was hospitalized with a broken nose suffered in an attack by a non-Jewish Iranian at the detention center, Ackerman reported.
“Despite his medical condition, the young man was returned to his cell the very day after his operation,” Ackerman charged. “The INS has shown a callous disregard for the plight of the two brothers. It is absolutely outrageous that immediately following surgery, he would be returned to the detention center, despite the clear danger facing him and his brother.” The INS could not be reached for comment today.
Ackerman has asked Immigration Commissioner Alan Nelson to release the two brothers into the custody of their family in Queens, which has offered to put up whatever bond would be required. “The law clearly allows the release of detainees on humanitarian grounds,” the legislator said. “Given the continuing persecution they are enduring, the Immigration Service should quickly release them while their asylum claim is decided.”
Ackerman said that 27 other members of Congress are supporting him in his request to Nelson.