Brentwood family fighting father's deportation to Pakistan

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KGO) -- A Brentwood family is fighting to keep their father in the United States with the support of the local community and businesses.

Ramzan Chaudhry sought political asylum almost 30 years ago, but finally lost his case. He was arrested on Valentine's Day by ICE and now faces deportation back to Pakistan.

"We are avoiding going home, because (Ramzan) is missing," says an emotional Asia Chaudhry, Ramzan's wife. She and her three teenage children now spend much of their time at their Brentwood Petroleum Station, which the Chaudhry's bought several years ago.

"This is a very serious situation, where ICE can put him on a plane, anytime," says Asia.

Saad Ahmad is Chaudhry's current lawyer. He says his client is a victim of an immigration scam when he first came to the U.S. at the age of 15, seeking political asylum. He adds that Chaudhry was also misguided on the asylum process. Otherwise, he would likely already have citizenship like his parents and siblings do.

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Chaudhry has been through immigration court and exhausted his appeals. But Ahmad says they have new basis for seeking asylum: the threat of being killed back, if sent back to Pakistan.

Asia was granted asylum in the U.S. fleeing a previous abusive marriage. Her family has threatened to kill Ramzan if he returns because they allegedly do not approved of their marriage.

"His wife's family members have informed us of their intention. They are very upset," Ahmad says.

Ahmad is seeking a stay, which would let Ramzan stay in the U.S., at least through any new trail. But Ahmad explains that if Chaudhry is deported before that, his chance at citizenship could be over, even if his wife or children, who are all U.S. citizens, petition or sponsor his citizenship.

"If you don't get a stay of deportation during this motion, you could be removed. And your motion to reopen becomes mute, for all practical purposes... because you are gone," explains Ahmad.

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Meanwhile, Asia says she struggling, saying it is hard to manage a business, three kids, and fight her husband's deportation. She says the stress keeps her up at night.

"How am I going to live without his support in my life? How am I going to take care of my children?," she said.

Since his arrest, the Chaudhry family says they have received huge amounts of support from the community. Long-time customers are coming to the station to volunteer and help out in other ways. They even collected more than 1,300 signatures for a petition to stop Ramzan's deportation..

"He's a great guy. I feel ashamed to be a U.S. citizen when we take people like him out of our country. It's just wrong," says Lance Jorgensen, who works in Brentwood. He has been one of their customers for more than five years.

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Asia says the threat of deportation, which could come at anytime and without any warning, weighs heavy, especially on her kids, who were once straight-A students, but who are now struggling at school.

"I'm so distracted by his detention. Is he going to get deported? Is he going to stay? Is he going to come home?" say Ramzan's 13-year-old son, Majid.

"I try to go to school, try to manage, try to keep up with my grades, do whatever I can to make him proud, because he came here for our education, and for us to succeed," says Kinza, the Chaudhrys daughter, who is freshman in high school.

Still, Ahmad, like the family, remains hopeful.

"He was not running away from the law. In fact, he showed up when he got the letter (to report), so ICE didn't have to do anything," he said.

Ahmad adds that Chaudhry has always fully cooperated with authorities, has no criminal record, and had a legal permit to work in the United States.

"30 year residence, family ties, paying taxes, contributing greatly to the community, will all be very positive factors (in his case)" says Ahmad.

In an email to ABC7 News, ICE says immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case.

Paul Prince, an ICE Spokesperson, says Chaudhry, is currently detained at the Yuba County Jail in Marysville pending the outcome of his immigration case appeal.
He says Chaudhry was first placed in removal proceedings on Aug. 7, 1998, and first entered ICE custody on Sept. 26, 2006.

"An immigration judge granted his release on bond on Oct. 13, 2006, and ordered him removed to his home country on Jan. 5, 2012. For the past twenty years, Chaudhry has been afforded due process in our nation's immigration courts and his case has undergone exhaustive review at multiple levels of the appellate process," Prince.
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