ICE Has Been Trying to Deport a Pakistani Man for Seven Years, But He Won't Get on the Plane

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Sohail Raza Khan would rather die than go back to Pakistan. He's made this abundantly clear to U.S. immigration officials, begging them to send him to federal prison, or just let him rot in the ICE detention facility where he's spent the past several years. Anything but deportation.

According to a 2009 opinion by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Khan fled Pakistan in 1985 after being arrested and tortured by police. He applied for asylum under the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture, but his request was denied by a local immigration judge, who signed a deportation order on May 21, 2007.

His appeal, based on the judge's refusal to allow testimony from Khan's sister backing up his claim that the Pakistani government had been keeping tabs on him and would likely torture him again upon his return, was denied, first by the Board of Immigration Appeals, then by the 5th Circuit.

Still, Khan has refused to leave. When ICE agents took him to DFW International Airport and attempted to put him on a commercial flight to Pakistan on January 3, 2012, he refused to board and was ultimately taken back to the ICE detention center.

Over the weekend, ICE tried again. On Friday, they transferred him from the ICE facility in Haskell to the ICE building on Stemmons Freeway, where he spent the weekend. Agents arrived on Monday to take him to the airport.

They got Khan out the door of the ICE building but not much further. As soon as they were outside, he began struggling, refusing to go any further. The officers wrestled him to the ground, then pulled him back inside.

For the moment at least, ICE has given up on getting Khan on the plane. Instead, federal prosecutors have charged him with impeding his removal from the United States.

With that, Khan might be allowed to linger in federal custody for another four years, the maximum allowable penalty under the law.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.