Arizona | Immigration | Iran | John McCain | Mohammad Abdollahi | News

Undocumented Gay Iranian Youth Jailed, Fears Deportation After Sit-In Protest at john McCain's Office

Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented gay Iranian who was part of a sit-in Immigration protest at Senator John McCain's office in Tucson, Arizona on Monday night, is now in the custody of Immigration authorities with a court date of June 16, the Free Press reports:

Sitin  "Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for McCain, said Tuesday that the office gave the protesters leeway and did not immediately call police when they arrived at the office. McCain's office let them even stay inside the office one hour past closing time. Buchanan said that McCain, an Arizona Republican, is committed to immigration reform, but she said that he believes the U.S. must first secure its borders. Abdollahi moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 3 years old. He said in an online profile that he fears deportation back to Iran because of that country's stringent laws against homosexuality. Abdollahi and the other protesters are calling for passage of the DREAM Act, legislation that would reform the nation's immigration laws."

Steve Ralls of Immigration Equality spoke up for Abdollahi in the Huffington Post:

"In today's Arizona, the fact that Mohammad Abdollahi is willing to speak up would be cause enough for concern. Abdollahi, who has been in the United States since the age of 3, risks arrest and deportation simply by being visible. Under the state's new, anti-immigrant law, his mere presence means risking his continued residency in the only country he has ever known well enough to call it 'home.' Add to that, however, the fact that Abdollahi (who currently lives in Michigan) is gay, and originally from Iran, and you can begin to understand the true courage behind his current sit-in at the office of Senator John McCain. If he is arrested, the 24-year-old faces deporation to one of the most notoriously homophobic countries in the world. Lesbians and gays are routinely tortured, and even executed, in Iran. There is little doubt that, if he is forced to return there, Abdollahi will, too, face unspeakable persecution simply because of who he is."

Michigan legislators have not been sympathetic to Abdollahi's case, the Michigan Messenger reports:

Mo"Two Michigan legislators who held a rally against illegal immigration on the grounds of the Capitol building in Lansing on Tuesday were less than sympathetic to Abdollahi’s cause. 'Americans cannot be accountable for the type of government other countries have, nor should we be responsible for it. So the fact an individual comes here because they choose a specific lifestyle that is illegal in their own country doesn’t necessarily mean they should get amnesty here,' said Rep. Kim Meltzer (R-Macomb Twp.). 'They have to go back to their country and fight for a democratic process — just like we in our country and we’ve fought for it and we’re fighting for it still.'  ... 'That’s an unfortunate scenario,' said Meltzer. 'I think it’s terrible you can executed for that, but how is that America’s problem?' And while Meltzer said she would 'certainly hate' for Abdollahi to go back to his country and face execution for 'any reason,' she said she was unsure if she could intervene on his behalf. She did not rule out intervening with federal authorities on Abdollahi’s behalf."

A report on the arrests and a video from Mohammad, who calls himself Mo, explaining his situation, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Yeah, having to obey the law sucks. I'm sick of people who are here illegally acting like they are above our laws.

    Posted by: busytimmy | May 19, 2010 12:52:31 PM

  2. I'm sick of people like the two Michigan lawmakers who act like we live in a vacuum. From their words, I can see them sending back Jews to Nazi Germany because "'Americans cannot be accountable for the type of government other countries have, nor should we be responsible for it. So the fact an individual comes here because they choose a specific lifestyle that is illegal in their own country doesn’t necessarily mean they should get amnesty here."

    Posted by: gerry | May 19, 2010 1:12:53 PM

  3. I don't want Mohammad to be sent back to Iran to face persecution, prosecution, or execution. It's sick that he would have to face such things simply for being born in the wrong country.

    That said... if you're a fucking undocumented resident, here illegally, you DON'T GO POSTING YOUR FACE ON YOUTUBE!! And you sure as hell don't get arrested while protesting in a Senator's office!

    And this goes doubly so for someone who KNOWS that his deportation - which is totally within the right of the U.S. Government to do - could end up with his imprisonment when he gets home... or worse.

    Seriously... what was this kid thinking? Who told him that the United States was the place where if you were stubborn enough, and were flagrant enough, you could get your way? Sorry, but it just doesn't always work like that.

    Posted by: TommyOC | May 19, 2010 1:12:59 PM

  4. Boo Hoo...apply for asylum, or don't bitch about laws being enforced.

    Posted by: me | May 19, 2010 1:13:11 PM

  5. Huh. Human rights in other countries have long been considered America's problem. One might argue that they're our problem as human beings, not Americans or Iranians. Shipping this lad back to certain persecution doesn't trouble this legislator's conscience, but you know what? It really should.

    Posted by: r | May 19, 2010 1:13:36 PM

  6. A rather narrow viewpoint as the first comment, IMO.

    My only thought on reading this piece was that it's unconscionable to knowingly send someone into danger when you can exercise compassion and avoid doing so.

    About the only part of "religion" that I adhere to is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    Posted by: JAMES in Toronto | May 19, 2010 1:19:49 PM

  7. I feel very sorry for this guy and hope he is not deported, but he was a total dumb-ass for going to a sit-in at a Senator's office. He should have realized he was going to be arrested and possibly deported. However, he will be treated much better here than in Iran. The fact of the matter is he is here illegally even if he was brought here at age three without his consent. The US has every right to enforce its immigration policy, just like every other country in the world.

    Posted by: Leto | May 19, 2010 1:24:11 PM

  8. James in Toronto, I can't just move to Canada, set up shop and then cry that the immigration laws of Canada should not apply to me. Can I come stay for free in your home? Use your social services? Go to your schools? What if I do some cheap labor for you? You can pay me cash........

    Posted by: busytimmy | May 19, 2010 1:39:15 PM

  9. He's been here since he was 3 years old. Exactly how did he "come here because [he] chose a specific lifestyle that is illegal in [his] own country"? He's being deported as an adult to a totalitarian regime that will likely hang him in the square for who he is. Any respectable democracy that is at all concerned about human rights would provide him with asylum instantly. If the US doesn't then they really should scratch that poem off of that statue in New York harbor.

    "Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 19, 2010 1:40:57 PM

  10. I can't say this was not the smartest move on their parts. None of them are in the position to be indignant about being here illegally - regardless of their situations and that they are not causing problems good while they're here.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | May 19, 2010 1:49:20 PM

  11. or should I have said; I can't say this was the smartest move on their parts. Whoops.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | May 19, 2010 1:50:13 PM

  12. James in Toronto wrote: "About the only part of "religion" that I adhere to is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.""

    Luckily, that's a concept found across cultures, not just in religions. That being said, maybe we should put that into practice and send that Meltzer lady to China, Saudi Arabia or some other country where they just love evangelical Christians...

    Milkman: You're correct, but that's not the kind of democracy we are. We only care about human rights when they affect people who are straight, white and Christian. But a gay Iranian? Who cares?

    Posted by: AJD | May 19, 2010 1:50:51 PM

  13. I can't believe all the racist comments on this thread.

    Aren't we suppose to be the tolerant, accepting, and enlightening ones.

    Some of you sound just like the right wingers who hate us.

    Posted by: Josh | May 19, 2010 1:54:26 PM

  14. Ahh, youth. So valiant yet so stupid.

    Posted by: crispy | May 19, 2010 1:59:48 PM

  15. AJD that analysis of our current social malaise is regrettably true. But that doesn't change the fact that this person needs some help dealing with this. His being in the US illegally is due to no fault of his own. That should count for something.

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 19, 2010 2:05:30 PM

  16. Josh, you shouldn't be shocked by the comments. Gay folks reflect the society at large in various ways, so there are racists also in our midst. Too often people are anti-immigrant (legal and illegal) until they fall in love with one. In this case, this guy has been in this country since 3, not by his own choice. He's had keep a low profile up till now, is educated here, and really is one of us without carrying the passport. It may not have been prudent to go "public" when you don't have legal status, but there are a lot of high school and college students in his position who are raised here and tired of living in the shadows. That's why Congress needs to move on the DREAM Act. Those politicians in MI are ignorant and clearly only have a selective knowledge of our country's and world history regarding persecuted people.

    Posted by: Albert | May 19, 2010 2:11:00 PM

  17. Oh, OK, let's send him back to Iran, all right, no matter what they're likely to do to him there, but first, let's send all our Cuban refugees back to Cuba, so they too can "fight for a democratic process" in Cuba, like Rep. Meltzer says. Hmm, wonder how folks in Florida (and elsewhere) would like dem apples? (Sounds of Republicans hissing excuses.)

    Posted by: Édouard | May 19, 2010 2:18:43 PM

  18. That's right. There's nothing special about gay people--not heightened empathy, higher IQ, or better skill in any area. Just like everyone else except for sexual orientation.

    So what connection does he have with iranian culture? None, it would seem. Further, I do believe in enforcing immigration laws, but the very real potential of death and punishment for a none crime in a religious theocracy trumps that. Automatic amnesty.

    Posted by: TANK | May 19, 2010 2:29:26 PM

  19. Now just one damn minute, I was under the impression that AB1070 was there to get rid of the Mexicans. This kid is Iranian, why are then messing with him?

    Posted by: Edd | May 19, 2010 2:39:38 PM

  20. My question is why not apply for citizenship in the usual way. He has been here since 3 years old and attended schools here. Certainly there must be some provisions in the immigration laws to facilitate this. All he needs is a lawyer. Again he may be too young to have thought about that.

    Posted by: simon | May 19, 2010 2:41:06 PM

  21. Boohoo. File for asylum or other immigration benefits and get in line with all the other LEGAL gay immigrants and asylees. We have a process for legal immigration and flagrant disregard earns the poor boy no points in my book.

    Posted by: Traveler J | May 19, 2010 2:48:51 PM

  22. So much for the sanctity of life...

    Posted by: Joel | May 19, 2010 2:58:43 PM

  23. Some of you are really, really fucking stupid.

    What he should have done was lay low, but that's about all he could do. Applying for amnesty isn't a great idea as this country doesn't have the best track record for providing it for gays. You might win or lose, but it's a huge gamble when you're life's at stake.

    But the assertion that he's here illegally and therefore deserves what he gets blows my mind. How selfish of this 3-year-old to sneak into America! Obviously the right thing to do is take a suicide trip back to Iran to fight for democracy.

    Those of you who whine about marriage and DADT but are unwilling to lend a hand to a gay foreigner who risks death are unbelievably opportunistic and selfish. Fuck you.

    Posted by: rafi | May 19, 2010 3:01:12 PM

  24. Sorry, meant asylum, not amnesty.

    Posted by: rafi | May 19, 2010 3:32:08 PM

  25. The organizers of this action should have never let him participate. Someone should have known better. And was there NO ONE to advise him not to go public? This is not a way to get anything done other than screwing up his life.


    The organizers should be ashamed of themselves for not making sure ahead of time that no one had any warrants or other things that would get them into trouble with the law. Now, the talk is not about McCain and immigration reform, it's about the "illegal kid who thinks he can get away with anything."

    Did I mention, this was stupid?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | May 19, 2010 3:47:47 PM

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