Relegated to no-man’s land

by Wendy Thomson on July 4, 2012

A San Diego man, a citizen of Somali descent, is stuck in Bahrain indefinitely. I can only imagine how terrible it must feel to not be allowed to come home, not go back to work, stuck in a foreign country, running short on cash, with little recourse. Talk about feeling like a Man Without a Country.

Ali Ahmed is 20 years old. He came to the U.S. via Kenya with his parents to flee civil war when he was seven years old. He has only left the U.S. once in the 13 years he has been here. And now he can’t come home.

His name has shown up on the No-Fly list. Of course, that list is shrouded in secrecy. You don’t know if you’re on it, you don’t know if you’ve been taken off it, you don’t know why you were put on it if you were, and it takes months at best to sort it all out. You won’t even know if you’ve been taken off: you must simply show up at an airport and try to fly.

The No-Fly list is maintained not by the TSA, but by the Terrorist Screening Center, which is under the aegis of the FBI. The TSC maintains the list; the TSA “administers” it.

Where is the due process in any of this? Where can Ali go to clear his name? He can’t very well appear in a domestic court; he can’t even get there.

He’s not the only one, of course. In May, an appellate court agreed to hear the cases of 15 men in similar circumstances.

The court simply agreed to hear the case. Which leaves Mr. Ahmed little recourse but to publicize his case and ask for intercession from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All while running out of money, far away from home.

Due process? Protection under the law? Non-existent. If this man is guilty of something, arrest him, have him escorted home, and let him fight the charges.

Stranding citizens in foreign countries is not anything we should allow to happen. In any case. Ever.

Previous post:

Next post: