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.
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.
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."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.