Interfaith Leaders Applaud Termination of 'LA 8'

January 31, 2007

A prominent group of interfaith leaders today applauded the decision of Judge Bruce Einhorn to terminate deportation proceedings against two members of a group known as the "LA 8" two decades after they were targeted for having distributed magazines and raised humanitarian aid for Palestinians. The Los Angeles immigration judge characterized the government's efforts not only as a violation of the men's Constitutional rights, but a "gross failure" and "an embarrassment to the rule of law".

SEE: "U.S. Loses 20-Year Attempt to Deport 2 Immigrants"

"The decision represents a victory not only for the men charged, but for the Constitution itself," said Rev. George Regas, chair of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative, which also includes Dr. Maher Hathout, Rabbi Steven Jacobs and Rev. Ed Bacon. "The ramifications of this case are far-reaching, not just for immigrants but for all Americans who value due process and freedom of speech."

In a scathing decision released Tuesday, Judge Bruce Einhorn wrote that "the attenuation of these proceedings is a festering wound on the body of these respondents, and an embarrassment to the rule of law. The Court finds that the government has failed to carry its burden of proving respondents deportable based on clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence. Therefore, the proceedings against Hamide and Shehadeh are terminated."
Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, along with five other Palestinian men and a Kenyan woman, were arrested on January 26, 1987 and charged with violating the McCarthy-era McCarran-Walter Act, which barred immigrants based on support of "world communism" for distributing literature by the Popular Liberation Front for Palestine (PFLP). The government claimed that the PFLP advocated world communism, making affiliation with it a deportable offense under the McCarran-Walter Act. They were held for 23 days in maximum-security cells, and charged with "aiding terrorism." Former FBI Director William Webster testified to Congress that after an extensive three-year FBI investigation the Los Angeles 8 "have not been found to have engaged them selves in terrorist activity." Webster testified that, "If these individuals had been U.S. citizens there would not have been a basis for their arrest."

This is a clear recognition by the court of the suffering of the respondents and their families unjustly for more than 20 years, not to mention that complete falsehood of the allegations that Hamide and Shehadeh in any way provided support to terrorist groups, material or otherwise. None of the LA 8 were ever charged with a crime and the federal court repeatedly held that their activities were protected by the First Amendment. Nonetheless, the Department of Justice relentlessly pursued deportation for Shehadeh and Hamide. When provisions of the McCarthy era McCarran-Walter act were ruled unconstitutional in 1990, the government retroactively applied the Immigration Act of 1990 to continue the effort to deport them, followed more recently by the the Patriot Act.

"On behalf of the LA8 and their families, a big thank you and gratitude to each and everyone who helped us in any way to make this win possible," Shehadeh wrote last nght in a post on the group's legal defense committee website ( "I haven't stopped doing what I'm doing. I've always lawfully engaged in activities that are protected by the Constitution. I'm not going to allow them to intimidate me. I keep saying they can do whatever they want to do, but they're not going to control my mind. I will keep talking about the truth."

Read "18 Years Waiting for a Gavel to Fall", published by the Los Angeles Times on the eve of government hearings held last year.

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