Ralph Isenberg
Ralph Isenberg
Mark Graham

New York Times on Ralph Isenberg's Efforts to Bring Saad Nabeel Back to North Texas

We've mentioned in recent months Ralph Isenberg's efforts to bring Saad Nabeel back to North Texas, where a University of Texas at Arlington electrical engineering scholarship awaits the 20-year-old Frisco Liberty High grad. Nabeel, though, was deported to Bangladesh last year: His family had been denied political asylum a decade ago, and, as The New York Times recounts today, "A separate application for resident status was approved, but then it stalled in visa backlogs." Saad was sent "home" last January, despite the fact he's been here since he was 3. He has since moved from Bangladesh to Malaysia, following threats made on his life; per today's paper, "Now he is lying low there, longing for the United States."

Isenberg, a former City Plan Commissioner whose own intriguing immigration tale we told at length back in '05, is the subject of Julia Preston's lengthy piece in The Times today -- because, as she writes, "The alliance of Mr. Isenberg, by his own description a hard-driving Jew, and Mr. Nabeel, a Muslim engineering student from Bangladesh who was deported last year, is one of the more unusual tales in the history of immigrants' struggles to prevail in the American immigration system." An excerpt:

Mr. Isenberg sits in his Dallas office, plotting what he calls "creative" legal strategies to reopen Mr. Nabeel's case, even though he is not a lawyer. In a stream of phone calls, he browbeats immigration officials, jawbones local reporters about the case and communes via video with Mr. Nabeel.

"This is not my job -- it's my mission," Mr. Isenberg said after one recent coaching session with Mr. Nabeel, whom he has never met in person. "Saad may not be a citizen, but he's as American as anybody else. He's a product of this country," Mr. Isenberg said, "and we have an obligation to protect our own."


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