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Schumer Says He Supports Application To Allow Ansar Mahmood To Remain In The Us

Citing feds' practice to occasionally grant supervised release that would enable Mahmood to stay in the US, Schumer says it's warranted in this case because he served his time, was cleared of terrorist links, and has support of the community

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today said that he supports onetime Hudson resident Ansar Mahmood's application for a supervised release and deferred deportation that would enable him to stay in the country. Mahmood, who was cleared of wrongful suspicions of terrorist connections, has served time in the Batavia Detention Center since February, 2002 for a nonviolent felony and has been threatened with deportation.

"As I've said before, I'm sympathetic to Ansar Mahmood," Schumer said. "The FBI cleared him of any links to violent crimes, he has been a model prisoner, and he has strong support within the community. From time to time, the federal government will grant supervised releases that allow a person to remain in the country but require him to check in with the government every month. This is a case that merits that response."

Mahmood came to the United States legally in April, 2000 after winning a visa in an immigration lottery. He worked up to 14 hours a day as a pizza delivery man in Hudson and earned enough to move his parents and younger sisters out of poverty. In October, 2001, he was picked up in Hudson for arousing suspicion after asking a security guard at the Hudson reservoir to take a photograph of him outside the gate of a water treatment plant against a backdrop of fall foliage.

Mahmood was cleared by the FBI of any suspected terrorist activity, including tampering with the water supply. A police search of his home did reveal that he had cosigned an apartment lease and registered a car for a Pakistani couple who had overstayed their tourist visas. Mahmood said he did not know that the couple was in the country illegally and that he followed his public defender's advice and pleaded guilty in hopes that the court would be sympathetic.

After being convicted of felony charges, Mahmood received five years probation for harboring aliens and under immigration law became subject to deportation and placed in detention. He has been held in Batavia since February, 2002. Mahmood seeks to remain in the country as a free man and had sought court action to remain in Hudson but has dropped the case and instead asked the federal government to intervene. Mahmood has gathered wide support for his cause, including many Hudson residents and several elected officials who back his bid to stay in the country.

Schumer today said that because Mahmood pleaded guilty only to a nonviolent crime, poses no threat to the community and has no other conviction, he should be allowed to remain in the country. For Mahmood to remain in the United States will require a supervised release and deferred action on his deportation, which is up to the discretion of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Bureau will occasionally grant such releases and will do so on the condition that the recipient check in with the government monthly. By having the person check in regularly, the supervised release would be similar to criminal parole.

"I believe we need to do everything within reason to defend our nation and crack down on terrorism but this is not a terrorism case," Schumer said. "Ansar Mahmood has been fully investigated by the FBI and it's determined that he is not a threat to the United States. There is not a compelling case for him to be deported."