WASHINGTON D.C. (CAIR Coalition/Mennonite Mission Network) — The combined efforts of Mennonite Voluntary Service participant Bradley Jenkins and members of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, helped keep a man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from deportation.
Jenkins, of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Nicoma Park, Okla., has served as a legal assistant with CAIR Coalition for the last two years under the auspices of MVS. As a newly minted Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative, Jenkins recently represented his first client before the Immigration Court, a 19-year-old native of Pakistan (not named due to privacy issues). Jenkins successfully argued that the teen should be granted deferral of removal to both Pakistan and Iraq under the guidelines of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Jenkins’ client was born in Pakistan after his mother fled Iraq. The family subsequently moved to Iran where the teen lived until he was 8 years old. The family then migrated to the United States as legal permanent residents. The young man was raised and schooled in northern Virginia and hadn’t left the country since immigrating.
During his youth, the teen and his mother were victims of domestic abuse by his father. The young man frequently witnessed physical assaults on his mother by his father, attacks which caused severe mental and emotional trauma to him. In one instance, when he was only three years old, he witnessed an assault on his mother and did not eat or drink anything for three days afterward. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The man eventually began to receive therapy and medication for his mental health problems, but the prolonged abuse made it difficult for him to say, “No,” to people and affected his ability to make good decisions. At the age of 17, he was convicted of a theft offense, leading to efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to deport him.
The teen came to the attention of CAIR Coalition during one of their routine jail visits. Jenkins took on the case, arguing that the young man risked arrest and torture if he was deported to either Iraq or Pakistan because of his emotional problems, his limited cognitive functioning, his inability to speak the language and his lack of familiarity with the culture in Pakistan or Iraq.
During the trial, a psychologist provided expert testimony on the severity of his emotional problems and the limits of his cognitive functioning, explaining that although his chronological age is 19, he has the abstract reasoning ability of a 10-year-old. In addition, the psychologist testified that without the support system so badly needed by someone with his mental and emotional problems, his mental state would deteriorate further, putting him at even greater risk
Despite the fact that the teen has never been to Iraq, knows nothing of the culture and speaks only a few words of Arabic, the DHS argued that he should be deported there, due to his mother’s Iraqi nationality. As an alternative, they also argued that he should be deported to Pakistan, where he has no family, no support and does not speak the language or know the culture.
In a written decision issued after the trial, the Immigration Court found that it was more likely than not that he would be detained and tortured should he be deported to either Pakistan or Iraq. Thanks to Jenkins’ efforts, the teen will be allowed to remain in the United States, close to his family and with access to the treatment he needs to continue healing from his traumatic past.
Mennonite Voluntary Service, one of Mennonite Mission Network’s Christian service programs, invites adults of all ages and backgrounds to spend a one or two year term living in community and serving in a variety of locations across the United States.
This story originally was written and released by CAIR Coalition.