Deported back to Guyana on Tuesday for a crime he says he didn’t commit, Mohamid Nazim Mohamed’s future is uncertain.
Mohamed, 53, a father of nine who is originally from West Coast Demerara and who spent the last 29 years of his life in Queens, New York says that he has no money, little clothes and has been left to depend on strangers.
Mohamed’s case is the type that the Caribbean has been arguing with the US about. The region has said that the US is sending back persons who have lived for a long time in the US and who have no family in the countries where they were born. The Caribbean has also argued that the US should provide resettlement assistance for each deportee sent back,
Mohamed was among 21 Guyanese who arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri on Tuesday afternoon onboard a US plane. He had two sets of matters before the US justice system. For the first set he was convicted but had filed a direct appeal. It was a guilty plea to a violation of a protection order charge, which he said he took on the advice of his lawyer and out of frustration, that led to him being sent back to Guyana.
Yesterday, a worried Mohamed visited Stabroek News with his mother, who had travelled to Guyana to lend him support to tell his story. Moments before he had visited the US Embassy here, but was told that nothing could be done for him.
He recounted to this newspaper how he was transported in shackles from state to state and then to Guyana as if he was a criminal. He said that after his deportation order was made last month, he was shackled and transported from the detention centre where he was being held to Pennsylvania. He said that because the plane transporting him and other prisoners broke down, he had to overnight in a correctional facility there. Early the following morning, he said they boarded a plane to Louisiana, where they were held for almost two weeks.
From there, he said he and 122 prisoners boarded a plane for the Dominican Republic. There, he and his 20 countrymen remained aboard the World Atlantic plane, which later continued its journey to Guyana. He said that it was only after the plane had landed that their shackles were removed.
He recounted that there were more than twenty officials, including some from a private security company. After leaving the plane, he said their names were taken and they were interviewed by an immigration officer. From the airport, they were transported on a bus to the Criminal Investigation Department, Eve Leary in the city.
There, he said, they were fingerprinted and interviewed by the police. He said that the police later told them that someone had to come and get them. He said that he had to call his step sister, who he hardly knows. He left CID close to midnight after being given a document which stated that he had to report to the police regularly and notify them of any change to his address, failing which an arrest warrant would be issued for him.
“I went through a hassle… I have already served my time and now I am on probation,” the frustrated man told Stabroek News. “I am here now with nowhere to go. This pants I have on here, I had to borrow this because we came on the plane with just one piece of clothes… I feel frustrated and helpless. I have to depend on strangers,” Mohamed, who is a carpenter, added.
‘Lacked knowledge of the law’
Mohamed’s main goal now is to get back to his family but he is clueless as to how to go about doing that.
He does, however, have a stack of documents which he said has evidence that he was wrongly convicted and did not commit any of the crimes that he is being accused of committing.
His troubles are centred on a woman who was identified in court papers shown to this newspaper as Bibi Booth, who police found filed false allegations against Mohamed in 2008. For whatever reason, the woman made more allegations against Mohamed that year but the complaints were made in another county.
Mohamed, who is still a legal permanent resident ( he never applied for citizenship), told Stabroek News that he pleaded guilty to violating a protection order (Criminal Contempt) in the second degree on October 20, 2008, based on the advice of his lawyer and also out of frustration at being held on remand. He explained that he was subsequently sentenced to 90 days in prison, which he served before being released.
It was explained to Stabroek News that sometime after his release, he was arrested in relation to a telephone call he allegedly made to Booth and held without bail. His immigration hearing in relation to his conviction later began and in May last year the judge ordered that he be deported. From then until the time he was expelled from the US, he had been putting up an unsuccessful fight.
Mohamed said that in May 2009, he was charged in Queens with assault in the third degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, two counts of criminal mischief in the third degree and criminal contempt in the first degree. In February 2011, he was sentenced to two to four years. However, he had filed a direct appeal, meaning the case is not concluded. He explained that his deportation was not based on this matter but the one to which he had pleaded guilty.
Producing copies of court documents including the testimony of witnesses, Mohamed said that they clearly showed that Booth lied against him and the District Attorney and his attorney failed to bring those lies to the attention of the court.
He said that Booth, who was just being vindictive, had claimed that he called and threatened her while he was in prison, which clearly showed that she was lying. This was not the telephone call that he was arrested for after he was released from custody.
Asked why he decided to plead guilty to the violation charge if he had done nothing wrong, he said that he took it because he was on remand and was frustrated. “After having his life like a ping pong back and forth, I crumbled mentally and physically and took the plea because my lawyer told me that by pleading guilty I would go home to my family and back to my city job. So, I took the plea not knowing that later on I was in violation of the federal immigration law which allows for me to be deported,” he explained. “As you can see here, I never made any phone call to this individual but just because I lacked the knowledge of the law… I took it,” he added.
He said that under the federal immigration law, one can only be deported for certain categories of crimes, including criminal contempt-violation of a court order.
‘Like real pigs’
Mohamed said that he tried to get help from the Guyana Consulate in Washington DC. He recalled that he spoke to a female official, who told him to send all the evidence he had and he did so on June 17, 2013. However he later learnt that the documents never arrived there. Mohamed said that since he was not satisfied, he subsequently spoke with the woman’s superior but still got no help.
He said that it was the job of those at the consulate to help him. However, he said embassy officials explained to him that if he did not have a stay while fighting his litigation, he could be deported. He said that he asked the official why that was not told to him 11 months prior.
The man said that he sent his brother-in-law to hand deliver a second package with all his document to the Consulate and even though that was done the embassy still issued travel documents for him to be deported back to Guyana. “They did not even help me,” he said, while adding that this situation has left him surprised. “I couldn’t believe it because I explained everything to the Guyana Consulate in Washington and I expected them to help me in this matter. Instead they just neglect me. They treat us like real pigs after that.”
After being told last month that he was being deported, Mohamed said he was given an opportunity to make a collect call to his family. He said that one of his countrymen was in a similar situation like him. He said that the man was deported although he had a case pending.
“I would say that the Guyana Government failed me,” he said, adding that he is hoping to successfully fight his deportation because he has to get back to his family.
He added that the attorney he hired for his violation betrayed him and was found lying in court documents. After he was convicted and the immigration proceedings started, Mohamed hired another lawyer but got no satisfaction after paying him US$6,200.
Thereafter, he hired two more lawyers to fight his case and he said during testimony his first lawyer lied about telling him that he would be deported if he pleaded guilty. Mohamed said that if he had known that was the case, he would not have pleaded guilty.