Legal experts say feds are resorting to immigration laws to keep Youssef Megahed detained

Youssef Megahed, a legal, permanent resident of the United States, has been re-arrested just three days after a federal jury found him not guilty of explosives charges. Legal experts cite Megahed’s detention as part of a federal government tendency to use immigration law when federal prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to convict persons in the criminal court. “They lost the case criminally because they don’t have a good case, and they turn around and prosecute him in immigration where the standards are lower and where you can keep somebody mandatorily detained simply by alleging he’s a terrorist,” said Miami immigration lawyer Ira Kurzban.

Megahed has lived in the United States with his family for more than 11 years, and is being held without bail as immigration authorities attempt to move deport him based on similar facts for which he was prosecutes in federal court. “The real problem is a complete fiction in immigration law,” Kurzban said. “On the one hand they say it’s not a criminal proceeding; it’s only a civil proceeding. That gives them the right to detain people forever, to abbreviate their constitutional rights, even though detention is clearly a punishment.”

Florida Muslim detained after being acquitted of charges, CAIR seeks release

On Tuesday, April 7, the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a news conference to call for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release former USF student Youssef Megahed.

In April 2007 Megahed, along with Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for allegedly having explosives in the trunk of his car. Mohamed pleaded guilty last Friday to the charges and is serving a 15-year prison sentence, while Megahed was acquitted and freed from custody.

ICE took Megamed back into custody while he was shopping with his father at a local Wal-Mart. They have accused him of “civil violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act” and have placed him in deportation proceedings. He must present his case to an immigration judge to be freed from the charges.