HUEYTOWN, Alabama – Federal authorities said they have tried to remove a Palestinian man who has been arrested 35 times in 12 years in Alabama, but said other countries have refused to take him.
Sofyan Eldani, 45, was arrested by Hueytown police earlier this week after he was found during a traffic stop to be in possession of crack cocaine. Police Chief Chuck Hagler said he was frustrated to find out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were familiar with the convicted felon, but couldn’t send him to his native country because the U.S. doesn’t recognize Palestine as a country. Eldani said he is a native of Palestine, though he carries an Egyptian passport.
Temple Black, a spokesman for ICE, today released the following statement regarding the predicament with Eldani.
“Sofyan Eldani was previously detained by ICE and ordered removed to Egypt. ICE made a travel document request to Egypt. Mr. Eldani made travel document requests to Egypt, Israel and Kuwait,” the statement read. “When authorities in those countries declined to provide the appropriate travel documents to facilitate Mr. Eldani’s removal, he was released from ICE custody due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis.”
“The Zadvydas decision generally allows ICE to detain aliens who are subject to a final order of removal only for a period of time deemed reasonably necessary to effectuate their removal. ICE makes every possible effort to remove all final-order aliens within a reasonable period, which the Supreme Court has determined is 180 days. After that period, if the actual removal cannot occur within the reasonably foreseeable future, ICE must release the alien.”
Eldani’s arrests including assault, fraudulent checks, criminal mischief, resisting arrests, reckless endangerment, shoplifting, burglary, drug possession, failure to appear, probation violation, possession of a drug paraphernalia and DUI.
He has at least nine convictions, including four felonies, and served six months in an Alabama prison for receiving stolen property.
So, for now, Eldani will remain in Alabama and face his most recent drug trafficking charge in state court.
“I understand what they’re saying, but it’s not a satisfactory answer,” Hagler said. “It doesn’t seem fair to us that if they refuse to take their problem child back, we are stuck with him. If an American gets convicted of being a serial child rapist in France, do we refuse to take him back? I doubt it. Am I the only one who thinks this is insane?”