The Undocumented Story of Minhaz Khan

I’ve been following closely the case of Minhaz Khan, a 24 year old undocumented Bangladeshi-American from the Inland Empire who, on Nov 4th, was required to put on an ankle bracelet and present a one way ticket to Bangladesh to the authorities. It had been 20 years since he’d been to Bangladesh and when his father was deported after being denied political asylum, he was murdered for his political affiliations in Bangladesh. had a petition out to support his case and his case garnered local media coverage. His case officer read  the coverage and removed the bracelet last week and Minhaz last Tuesday was granted a temporary stay.

Minhaz Kahn — the UC-Riverside alumnus who last week had to show immigration officers that he bought a one-way ticket back to his native Bangladesh — learned Tuesday that he doesn’t have to return home just yet. He will be able to stay in the country for another three months…[T]op federal counsel told a group of American Immigration Lawyers Association attorneys in a meeting last week that they will not automatically grant a stay for all other DREAM Act eligible immigrants who are awaiting deportation, says AILA attorney Leah Price. [SFWeekly]


I had the chance for a virtual sit-down with Minhaz right after the ankle bracelet was placed on him a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what he had to say.

When and why did your family come to the United States?

My family came in 1992 to flee danger. My dad left entrepreneurial success and political influence to work at gas stations and my mom left a teaching career and lost all significance her Master’s held, so to anyone who says immigrants come here to take anything from anyone is missing what many people have to leave behind for safety and the possibility of a better future.

Why wasn’t your father able to seek political asylum? What happened after he was deported?

I’m not completely sure why he wasn’t granted asylum. I never got to see the judge’s decision, but I think he missed an interview or something due to a lawyer not notifying him. After he was deported in 1997, he died (or in my whole-hearted belief, murdered) a couple of years later.

You’ve lived in the United States your whole life – why are you being deported now?

After my father left, my mother continued to try to legalize our status but further complications with shady people left us in limbo. By this time, I was headed off to college and legal status fell by the wayside of more immediate problems. Eventually this caught up with us, ICE raided out home at 4am in a September 2009. Since then, we were released under Order of Supervision and we were able to attempt to pursue steps to adjust our status but would report every 3 months. We still have things pending when I decided to move to SF to pursue better educational opportunities and asked to have my case transferred to the SF ICE office. It went smoothly, I even checked in with SF ICE and was let go. Then, they called me to come back in and told me I had to buy a plane ticket and that they were going to enforce my deportation and put an ankle bracelet on me until the 18th, when my flight would take place.

You’ve been a Dream Activist and are technically eligible for the California Dream Act. Why do you think this is important?

This country benefits when educational access is based on academic merit. That means, no matter your legal status, if you are a good student, you deserve the opportunity to continue that. I’ve been lucky to get through school but other undocumented students have even tougher circumstances. the CA DREAM Act gives access to already established funds to students who need it. It does not take away from citizens because those funds are already set aside based on high school graduation rates.5. For my mom, I’m sure it was financially tough. For me, I am not sure, I don’t have anything to compare it to. My childhood was interesting, we lived paycheck to paycheck, it wasn’t easy for my mom to get jobs. But I definitely feel I appreciate things more but you can say that about anyone who grew up relatively poor and especially undocumented families.

How has your mom dealt with all of this and how has she been able to keep it together?

 I really don’t know. She is a strong, if stubborn, woman.

You are studying neuroscience. what do you want to do with that?

I really wanted to get involved with research and I got a small taste of that at UCLA, but with my current situation needs me to consider work opportunities over that. So, I was trying to get a few classes I need to get into a PA program and have a stable career and then maybe pursue teaching science and math part-time later on down the line.

I thought only Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan wore ankle bracelets – how’s it feel to have that thing on your ankle? What are the rules around it?

It’s annoying. I literally had to scurry to drive home tonight to charge it before I began responding to you. It is my responsibility to take care of it and keep it charged (2 hours each day) otherwise I get in trouble. It is considered leniency, an “alternative to detention.” I cannot go outside of 65 mile radius of my address and I have to stay home one day a week for them to come check up on me, and also spend one day a week going to their office to check in. It also hurts like hell on my ankle bones without socks on. Sometimes it doesn’t work right, and beeps all night even though it’s been charged over and over. It’s run by a third party private company.

What have you learned from the process?

A lot. I follow the legal process a lot and I learn something new each time, but I only know one path right now: my own. Experienced lawyers have seen them all. Getting a good lawyer is hard. My current lawyer is awesome and truly fights for me, but I have had lawyers who are just salespeople with a diploma.

What can people do to help?

An ICE Chief Counsel is considering a package my attorney has sent them to jointly request my case be dropped. In the future, I might need support to get attention from Congressional offices. But what people can really do is keep in mind what is happening, and that my case is just a sample of what’s going on to others. Private companies are influencing the laws being passed in this country and then profiting off of people’s fears, ignorance and suffering.

Congrats to Minhaz and his lawyers for being able to gain the temporary stay. It doesn’t end here – Minhaz’s story is just one of many cases out there highlighting issues with Dream Act eligible students that are being forced into deportation proceedings after living in the U.S. their whole lives. One thing is clear – the immigration system is clearly backlogged and broken, no matter what side of the aisle you believe in. Reform is needed. Please follow Dream Activist to follow the latest stories from this movement.

9 thoughts on “The Undocumented Story of Minhaz Khan

  1. How come his dad couldn’t get amnesty in India, UAE, kuwait, or some other oil-rich nation which employs a lot of Desis?

    Although Minhaz is a very nice, intelligent, and value-added person in the USA, a rule is still a rule. His dad broke a rule and put his own family at risk. I believe that they should get punished some how, bu I don’t know what should be done to punish them, but I do think that if we give amnesty to 1,000,000s of S.Americans, we can accommodate this family.

    Finally, I know many Sikhs who’ve applied for amnesty. I don’t believe in most of the amnesty cases. If you’re really in trouble, you’ll even try to immigrate to Peru, Venezuela, Poland, or Malaysia.

    Readers, how would YOU deal with illegal immigration?

    • Saying a “rule is still a rule” is a very ignorant thing to say.

      Tell that to the Nazi soldiers who were tried for killing millions of people and were “just doing their jobs.” I’m sure they’d agree with you.

      Tell that to Rosa Parks who broke the rules because they were unjust. Tell that to the American Revolutionaries who broke the rules of British law.

      “An individual who breaks a law that his conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonme­nt in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

      • You all made brilliant points, and surprisingly, you all changed my view. I’m not being sarcastic one bit. I love, especially, how you brought up Ms. Rosa Parks. She broke a rule for OUR benefits. She over-turned unjust laws. Oh yes, the British legally forbade us from making salt.

        Regarding illegal immigration: Another person here basically said to go after the Big Guys. I agree 100%. Punish the Big Guys.

        Me taking out my frustrations on the illegal immigrants is sort of like blaming the Iraq Invasion ’03 on the foot soldiers.

    • The “Rule is a rule” statement is really ridiculous. Who plays by the rules? Banks? Lobbyists? Politicians?

      Illegal immigration is present where there is opportunity. Want to get rid of illegal immigration? Okay then fine and arrest employers who hire illegals for pennies to pick produce in the heat so that you can buy a cabbage for 3 dollars instead of the $15 it would cost if the farmers hired legals and paid minimum wage and insurance. Most of the illegals work in corporatized establishments like food service, construction, and farming. You still don’t want illegals? Then grow food locally with local people chipping in during harvest time, like they used to, which is why schools are out for the summer months. Don’t create housing bubbles with faceless, nameless drones writing out mortgages and then betting against them and making millions and losing millions. Someone had to build the cheap houses to feed the bubble. You like your buckets of cheap chicken tenders? Go look inside food processing plants for fast food. They are full of illegals. Why? They allow you have $2 burgers.

      Most illegals who come here do so to work hard and make a decent lives for themselves. Don’t punish them. Go after the big guys who are making money off of cheap labor and making this country bankrupt while they fly in private planes and think of more wars to wage and weapons to sell and oil fields to own.

    • I will just add one more point. Many Indians came here with parents who were educated and got citizenship through their academic or technical jobs. Guess what? You were already part of the elite before you left the desh. Same case if you came here as a student. You are still already part of the elite. Don’t think you are a legal citizen because you are inherently better than an illegal. You are just lucky you got born into a family with some wealth and got to go to college and apply for universities or jobs in the U.S.

      Most illegals who come here are very poor or like Minhaz a refugee who has left everything behind. They have no choice but to steal into another country and just try to raise their children and have a better shot at life. If you have legal citizenship and some wealth, have some compassion. It’s not about rules.

      We have enough money to take in people who want to work hard here and raise their children. We don’t have money for 900 military bases around the world and a “defense” budget that is in the trillions. Somehow we find money to build weapons, keep dictators in power, and invade other people’s countries but no money to give subsidized health care to our old and poor. What kind of rule do we live with?

      Sorry to derail the thread. I hope Minhaz gets to stay in the country, get a good job, and buy his mother a nice house and take her out for manicures and fancy dinners.

      Thanks for this post, Taz.

  2. I always enjoy your posts, Taz. I am curious why you say that his father was killed/murdered for his political beliefs when in the interview Minhaz says that his father died. He doesn’t say how and if he was killed because of political affiliations. Are you extrapolating from the little Minhaz said or do you have more information than what you offered here?

    Minhaz should be allowed to stay in the country because amnesty is given to millions like him every year and he has every right to be here. He didn’t chose to come here, and as a child of an illegal, he should get amnesty.

    • I couldn’t find an article on his father’s death – but it was mentioned in the narrative on the petition and I did ask the question of what happened to his father. As someone who’s mother just passed, I don’t feel comfortable pressing him further on the details other than what I did ask. If Minhaz wants to expand, he can do so in the comments. But I personally respect if he doesn’t want, especially if it may compromise his safety.

  3. What rigor of american law or rules do you speak of. The same one which talks about the “great constitutional right of freedom of religion and creation of churches of all faiths in equal to all citizens “. But every time a mosque or temple is trying to be built by citizens of america in their communities, the bible thumping majority, great american suburbia and urban together — come up with ridiculous parking problems, hazard issues to local life etc, but when a church wants to be constructed none of these issues come up.

    American law and rules are selectively applied, and christian bias through the american majority populace is evident across this wide land.

    Second generation or not, fair or not, american rules are just those of convenience, and this website can try to push pluralism. But until it breaks down the american seduction with the bible thumping blind evangilism, nothing american does will really matter in terms of making a change that is sustainable. Change starts at home.

    No wonder Narendra Modi is becoming popular across rural idaho and southern maine. Kid me not, I ran into some white 41 year old farmer and the guy was talking about the modi effect on idaho. DAMN!

    Jai ho, you ivtory tower miscreants

  4. “I’ve been following closely the case of Minhaz Khan, a 24 year old undocumented Bangladeshi-American “. Uh, if he is undocumented, then he is not eligible for the tag ‘-American’.