NEW YORK (Oct. 30)
Two Iranian Jewish brothers ordered deported from the U.S., may be admitted legally as refugees after following a procedure outlined in an agreement reached over the weekend with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed today.
David Pollock, assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York, told the JTA that the three-phase agreement was worked out in discussions between the brothers’ attorney, Leon Wilder, and U.S. officials under the aegis of Federal Judge Leo Glasser whose restraining order a week ago halted INS attempts to deport the brothers to Spain, a country which refused to admit them.
The twin brothers, Faramaz and Behrooz Sedgh, 23, have agreed to leave the U.S. for Vienna under an Order of Exclusion, which they will not contest. Once in Vienna, they may file immediately for admission to the U.S. as refugees.
The government has waived the one-year waiting period normally required in such cases, Pollock said, and their application for refugee status will not be prejudiced by the earlier problems with their passports.
ESTIMATED 3-4 WEEKS’ STAY IN VIENNA
The brothers were arrested on January 22, 1983 for entering the U.S. with false passports, their only means of escape from Iran. Pollock said that as part of the agreement, they will furnish U.S. authorities, with information about how they obtained the passports, “to the best of their knowledge.” This will be done before they depart for Vienna.
Pollock said that, according to Wilder, once the formalities are over, the U.S. will approve the application. He said a government official indicated there was no reason why this should not be the case and estimated that the brothers’ stay in Vienna will be no longer than 3-4 weeks.
The date of their departure for Vienna will depend on the response of the Austrian government. If the Austrian authorities do not signify in writing by November 11 that the brothers will be admitted, Judge Glasser can order their release from INS custody as parolees, Pollock said.
THREE NEW YORK LAWMAKERS INTERVENED
He said the agreement was made possible through the intervention of three New York Congressmen, Gary Ackerman a Democrat and Hamilton Fish and Benjamin Gilman, both Republicans, who discussed the case with INS, State Department and Justice Department officials. The brothers must go to a foreign country to seek refugee status because the law forbids anyone under an exclusion order from doing so within the U.S.
Pollock explained that Vienna was selected as the site for the formalities because the Rav Tov organization which is sponsoring the Sedgh brothers has facilities there. He said Rav Tov is an organization of Satmar hasidim which helps Jews escape from Iran, the Soviet Union and countries of distress in eastern Europe.
CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL HEARING
Meanwhile, according to Pollock, Ackerman has called for a Congressional hearing to investigate the INS action in this and similar cases. The Sedgh brothers were placed on a flight to Spain on October 20 even though the INS had been informed by the Spanish authorities that they would not be admitted.
They were flown back to New York on October 21, only to be placed on another flight to Spain the next day. They were returned to New York on October 23 after being flown across the Atlantic four times and were about to be placed on yet another flight to Spain when Judge Glasser’s restraining order halted their odyssey. The INS had selected Spain because it was their last departure point before the brothers reached the U.S. 10 months ago.
The brothers were taken from Kennedy Airport last Sunday to the INS detention center at the old Brooklyn Navy yard from where they were inexplicably transferred to the Manhattan Correctional Center, a federal jail. According to Pollock they have since then been transferred back to the INS detention center.