Business as Usual: Immigration and the National Security Exception
For many, the name Iqbal identifies a famous Pakistani poet and philosopher. In Arabic, the name Iqbal means one who is fortunate or wealthy. In several cultures, the naming of a child is a sacred act and celebrated event. Such cultures associate a name’s meaning to the qualities and characteristics shared by the child named. By extension, one might assume that one who is named Iqbal will enjoy great prosperity and riches. The legal and human journey for a man named Javaid Iqbal proved to be quite different.
Javaid Iqbal is a native and citizen of Pakistan and a Muslim. After moving to the United States, Iqbal worked as a cable television installer on Long Island. Iqbal was one among hundreds of men apprehended and detained by the United States Department of Justice in the weeks that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks. Iqbal was held in a federal prison in Brooklyn, New York called the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), for more than one year. In January 2002, Iqbal was transferred to the maximum security section of the jail known as the Administrative Maximum Special Housing Unit (ADMAX SHU). Following his deportation to Pakistan, Iqbal filed a federal lawsuit in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York against several federal government officials, including the former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the former head of Federal Bureau for Investigations Robert S. Mueller III, claiming that they were responsible for the abuses he suffered while at MDC. While at MDC, Iqbal alleged that he suffered the following abuses “numerous instances of excessive force and verbal abuse, unlawful strip and body cavity-searches, the denial of medical treatment, the denial of adequate nutrition, extended detention in solitary confinement, the denial of adequate exercise, and deliberate interference with [his] rights to counsel and to exercise of [his] sincere religious beliefs,” among other things. Iqbal alleged that he was singled out for mistreatment based on race, religion and national origin and also “subjected to a pattern and practice of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in violation of the United States Constitution, federal statutory law, and customary international law.”