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After Being Drugged and Dragged to DFW, A Stay of Execution

Rrustem Neza's case was front-page news in his native Albania.

Eight years ago in the paper version of Unfair Park, now-editor Mark Donald wrote about Dallas immigration attorney John Wheat Gibson, who, back then, was sparring with Immigration and Naturalization Service over the fate of seven Yugoslav immigrants -- six of them ethnic Albanians -- who were seeking political asylum in the U.S. Which sounds familiar: In November, we mentioned Gibson's involvement in the case of Rrustem Neza, a 32-year-old Albanian living in Lufkin, where he owns a chain of eateries. As you may recall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement so wants Neza out of the country, in August they drugged him and put him on a plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; he got out of the flight by shouting, "I am not a terrorist!" as agents tried restraining him.

Peter Calvin
Dallas immigration attorney John Wheat Gibson

Neza has a good reason for wanting to stay in Texas: He says he'll be killed if he returns to Albania, where he publicly revealed the names of the men who killed Albanian Democratic Party leader Azem Hajdari a decade ago. And, for at least one more year, he will remain here thanks to an agreement reached yesterday between a House subcommittee and the federal agency trying to kick Neza out of the country.

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Gibson got U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Tyler, involved in the case, and Gohmert's bill that would allow Neza the chance to reapply for political asylum is one step close to reality. Reports the Associated Press today, "An agreement between the House Immigration Subcommittee and the Department of Homeland Security prevents Neza from being deported before March 2009 while the bill is considered."

Says Gohmert in a separately released statement: "Sending him back to Albania is like signing a death warrant for an innocent man, which I cannot sit idly by and allow to happen." --Robert Wilonsky

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