The Trump administration rejected a green card application for a Muslim man who accused Border Patrol of serving him pork sandwiches for six days — and did so the day after HuffPost published an article detailing his allegations.
Adnan Asif Parveen filed an application to adjust his immigration status nearly two years ago, based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. But he had yet to receive a decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before he was detained at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, on Jan. 11.
“I feel like it’s simply because he’s Muslim,” Asif’s wife, Jennifer, told HuffPost. “All we have tried to do is be a family and be legal. Every step of the way has been completely complicated. It’s hard not to be discouraged.”
Though Asif possessed a permit allowing him to work legally while his green card application was pending, Border Patrol agents detained him for six days. Asif said the only food he received in the agency’s custody was a pork sandwich every eight hours, which he had to refuse because he practices Islam. When agents offered nothing else, he picked off the meat and ate the bread.
Asif told HuffPost that while he was in custody, two officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned him about possible terrorist ties or anti-American sentiment at his mosque. “I said, no, the mosque is where you go to pray,” he recounted.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the article, but pointed to guidelines requiring the agency to accommodate religious dietary restrictions. ICE declined to comment on the alleged interview and would not confirm that it occurred.
Asif is currently detained at Port Isabel Detention Center in South Texas, where he faces the possibility of deportation.
“I feel like it’s simply because he’s Muslim. All we have tried to do is be a family and be legal. Every step of the way has been completely complicated. It’s hard not to be discouraged.”
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) penned a letter last week asking the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the allegations and to explain why Border Patrol detained Asif even though he had a work permit.
Several lawyers and advocates HuffPost consulted, including Asif’s attorney Cathy Potter, suspect that Asif’s religion may have played a role in derailing his green card application. A 2012 lawsuit revealed that USCIS casts additional scrutiny on citizenship, green card and visa applications from nationals of several Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, where Asif was born.
The agency rarely discusses the Controlled Application Review Resolution Program publicly and doesn’t tell people who are flagged why their applications have stalled. USCIS declined to discuss Asif’s case, citing privacy concerns.
Asif moved from Pakistan to Spain as a child and gained citizenship there. In 2014, he traveled to the United States to visit his uncle and cousins in New York City. During a visit to Columbus, Ohio, where his uncle owned a gas station, Asif met Jennifer, and the two began dating. Instead of returning to Spain, he stayed with her, leaving him undocumented after his 90th day in the United States.
But the two married on Jennifer’s 35th birthday in 2016, then filed the paperwork with USCIS to adjust Asif’s status. Within a year, USCIS scheduled an interview ― the final step in the green card process.
Then the agency canceled the interview, saying only that it needed more time for a background check. Asif and his wife checked back repeatedly with USCIS without receiving further explanation.
The application had been pending for nearly two years by the time Border Patrol agents arrested Asif in Falfurrias. And it was only after HuffPost published an article detailing his experiences at the hands of Border Patrol and ICE that USCIS finally started to make decisions in his case.
This week, Jennifer received a letter dated March 1 asking her to visit the USCIS office in Ohio to discuss Asif’s application. It made no reference to any decision.
Then, she received a second letter dated Feb. 28, the day after HuffPost published the article about Asif, telling her that the agency had rejected her husband’s green card application.
The letter said Asif’s application suffered from “significant adverse factors that show discretion should not be exercised in your favor,” citing that ICE ordered Asif removed on Jan. 17 and that he is currently detained in Port Isabel.
It’s unclear what will happen next. Potter, Asif’s lawyer, filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking his release. She said she plans to take further legal action now that Asif’s green card has been rejected.
“I feel like I can’t give up on this,” Jennifer said. “I can’t lose him.”