By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

22 April 2012

Hueytown chief: Feds won't deport repeat drug offender because he's man without a country

10857945-small.jpgHUEYTOWN, Alabama -- Illegal immigrant Sofyan Eldani has been arrested 35 times in 12 years while living in Alabama, but he remains here, federal authorities tell police, because they can't deport him to a country that doesn't exist.

Eldani, 45, carries an Egyptian passport, but claims to be from Palestine.

Hueytown police Chief Chuck Hagler said his officers arrested Eldani this week after they found him carrying crack cocaine. When they called Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, those officials said they were familiar with the convicted felon, but couldn't send him to his native country because the United States doesn't recognize Palestine as a country.

"I know I am just a simple, small-town police chief," Hagler said, " but it seems to me that a country that can send people to the moon should be able to get an illegal alien out of the country."

Hagler said a Hueytown police officer on Monday stopped a vehicle in which Eldani was a passenger for a traffic violation. Those inside were acting suspicious, Hagler said, and the officer ended up arresting Eldani for possession of an illegal substance.

A routine check of Eldani's criminal history proved more than interesting, he said.

Hagler said Eldani has been arrested 35 times on charges including assault, fraudulent checks, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, shoplifting, burglary, drug possession, failure to appear, probation violation, possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI.

Alabama state court records show Eldani pleaded guilty in 2009 to drug possession and receiving stolen property; in 2008 to theft of property; in 2003 to four counts of fraudulent checks; in 2002 to two counts of theft of property; in 1997 to driving with a revoked license and in 1996 to being a pedestrian under the influence.

He has four felony convictions, Hagler said, and served six months in an Alabama prison for receiving stolen property.

"That's just his Alabama history," Hagler said.

When the Hueytown police called ICE about Eldani this week, Hagler said his officers were told to tell Eldani that federal immigration officials were going to come get him, but warned that Eldani would know they really wouldn't.

"They're saying because he is Palestinian, they can't make him leave because he doesn't have anywhere to go," Hagler said. "So basically, he has made it to home base and he is safe."

ICE officials told The Birmingham News they had to look further into the issue before commenting.

Hagler said he is frustrated. "Our problem is that he's here. Where he ends up really isn't our problem," the chief said.

"This is a guy who is obviously going to be a criminal, and everybody acknowledges he's not supposed to be here, but nobody will remove him," Hagler said. "With all the hysteria we've had on immigration, this is a real immigration issue."



The comments are closed.