A Texas woman could be facing deportation after being convicted of “committing lies of omission on two passport applications by not listing a previous name that been used on a transit visa when she fled Afghanistan” [Source: The Dallas Morning News]. Lilla Haiddar, 57, arrived in the U.S. in May 2001 with her two sons after obtaining C-1 transit visas. These visas were obtained under the name Marufa Khashim Surgul.
The transit visas, which were issued at the U.S. embassy in Uzbekistan, allowed the mother of two to safely pass through the U.S. In June 2001, the news source says that Haiddar and her sons arrived at JFK International Airport in New York with their visas and were expected to take a flight out to Canada that same day. Instead of doing that, Haiddar stayed in the U.S. with her two sons and applied for asylum in August 2001 claiming she fled Afghanistan “after Taliban soldiers came to her home.”
The source also says that Haiddar told immigration officials that she flew from Pakistan to Mexico and was “secreted across the border into the U.S. with the help of an uncle to escape oppression in her native country.” At the time, rather than list her name as Marufa Khashim Surgul, she listed it as Lilla Haiddar along with different birth dates on the documents. Haiddar was eventually granted asylum and later obtained U.S. citizenship.
Over the course of the 19 years Haiddar has lived in the U.S., she has worked at DFW International Airport helping travelers and soldiers get to where they needed to go and served as “a contractor for the U.S. Army, training soldiers to understand the language and culture of Afghanistan.”
After living in the U.S. for several years and building a better way of life for her and her sons, Haiddar ran into trouble after facial recognition software linked her initial passport with the 2018 photo she used when applying for a renewal. It wasn’t until recently that a federal jury in Dallas, TX convicted Haiddar for lying on the documents which has led to her being stripped of her U.S. citizenship. The news source says her conviction is not only punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000, but it also puts her at risk of being deported.
During the hearing, Haiddar’s public defender shared the “horrific conditions that caused his client to flee Afghanistan where women are rapped, exploited, and oppressed.” The source says her sentencing has been scheduled for some time in July.
Do you know someone in Texas who is facing deportation?
If you or someone you know has been faced with an immigration-related issue or are facing deportation, the Texas immigration lawyers at the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen are here to help you. With immigration reform at the top of the Trump administration’s agenda, it is important that you retain a Texas immigration lawyer who can act quickly and potentially keep you out of ICE custody or from being deported.
You can reach the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen at:
310 South St. Mary’s Street, Suite 2100
San Antonio, Texas 78205