By Jennifer Gonnerman
June 26, 2017 Issue
Tahira Khan was helping her son get ready for school, in Midwood, Brooklyn, when she heard a knock on the door. She opened it to find two immigration agents, who held up a photograph of her husband, Shahid Ali Khan, and asked where he was. Khan, who worked as a day labourer, was on his way to a construction site. The officers told Tahira to call him, and then one of them got on the phone and ordered him to come home. Outside the building, several other officers were waiting with a van. When Khan arrived, they handcuffed him, locked a chain around his waist, and pressed him into the back seat. They took him to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at 26 Federal Plaza, in downtown Manhattan. That evening, immigration agents left him at a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he was given an inmate uniform and placed in a dormitory with dozens of other men.
Khan’s arrest occurred on May 5, 2005, seventeen months after an immigration judge issued a deportation order. He and Tahira had left Islamabad in 1997, when their son, Mansoor, was a year old. Mansoor had been born with a heart defect, and doctors told them that he needed surgery that was not available in Pakistan. Khan, who worked as a bank manager, applied for a one-year leave, obtained temporary visas for the family, and brought his wife and son to New York. Doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center performed open-heart surgery on Mansoor when he was two.
After the surgery, Mansoor suffered a devastating complication: a rare movement disorder called post-pump chorea, which made his limbs flail uncontrollably. It was difficult for him to walk, talk, or eat; he needed a wheelchair and a feeding tube. The Khans remained in New York so that Mansoor could continue to see his doctors at Mount Sinai. In late 2003, Khan received the deportation order. He hired an immigration lawyer, Elinor Drucker Rahmani, who submitted a request for a stay. When Khan was arrested, the request was still pending.
Shahid phoned Tahira from 26 Federal Plaza and told her to call Drucker Rahmani. She suggested that Tahira speak to Mohammad Razvi, who ran the Council of Peoples Organization (copo), a community group serving South Asian and Muslim immigrants, whose office was five blocks away. The next day, Razvi joined Tahira and a few friends in the Khans’ cramped living room, as Tahira tearfully told the story. “It was like I’m at a funeral,” Razvi recalled. “Everybody was consoling her, like, ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be O.K.’ ”
Razvi walked back to his office, on Coney Island Avenue, passing Raheela Beauty Parlor and Bukhari Restaurant. The avenue is the center of Little Pakistan, where thousands of immigrants like the Khans have settled in the past several decades. Razvi, who came from Lahore in 1980, when he was eight, grew up working at his father’s grocery store, on Coney Island Avenue. During the year after 9/11, when hundreds of Pakistanis were detained for immigration violations, he founded copo, to support the detainees and their families. Razvi became an aggressive advocate for the community, learning how to navigate government bureaucracies and to enlist the help of journalists and politicians.
Razvi and Tahira visited the offices of Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Major Owens, to plead Khan’s case. Razvi also spoke to Robert Polner, a reporter for Newsday. On May 10th, the paper published a story titled “Father’s Deportation to Pakistan Could Deprive Sick Boy of Care or Force Mom and Son to Stay Behind Alone.” Khan was released from the detention center that day and subsequently placed under an “order of supervision,” which allowed him to remain in the U.S. temporarily, as long as he checked in regularly with immigration officials. Mansoor, who was then nine, made a thank-you card for Razvi, using crayons, stickers, and yellow construction paper.
Twelve years later, the family was still living in the same apartment. Khan sometimes introduced Razvi to friends who needed help with immigration problems. Many of the detainees Razvi tried to help after 9/11 ended up being deported, but the Khans’ story, he told me, was “one of the happy, wonderful cases I loved.” He still has Mansoor’s card at his office.
Over the years, Razvi had shifted the focus of copo, offering programs for children and seniors, but after the Inauguration of Donald Trump, this past January, people in the neighborhood panicked. Razvi started receiving ten or fifteen calls a day from Pakistanis who worried that law enforcement would round up every immigrant who was in the country illegally, and that anti-Muslim hate crimes would escalate, as they had in the fall of 2001. In February, a friend told Razvi that her husband, a cabdriver, had been threatened by another driver, who was wielding a bat and shouting something about Trump. Razvi feared for neighborhood residents, and especially families like the Khans. Recalling the era after 9/11, he said, “I think what’s happening is, it’s ripping those wounds open again.”
New York City officials calculate that seventy-three thousand Pakistanis live in the five boroughs, though the true number is likely much higher. The largest concentration resides in and around Little Pakistan. On Coney Island Avenue, between Newkirk Avenue and Avenue H, men stroll down the sidewalk in shalwar kameez, and newspaper boxes are filled with copies of the Pakistan Post and the Urdu Times.
Razvi’s family was part of the first wave of Pakistani immigrants. They are Shia, and, as members of a minority in largely Sunni Pakistan, they were vulnerable to violence and discrimination, which worsened after the coup led by General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, in 1977. Razvi’s mother, who was a nurse, obtained visas for the family. In 1981, Razvi, his parents, and his three younger brothers moved into a housing project in Sheepshead Bay, where nearly all their neighbours were African-American or Puerto Rican.
At the time, Midwood was mostly Jewish, but in 1982 a mosque, Makki Masjid, opened on Coney Island Avenue, and began attracting Pakistanis to the neighbourhood. Looking at the growing immigrant population, Razvi’s father, Abbas, said, “I was thinking this place could go up.” In 1984, he rented a storefront and opened Punjab Grocery, the first Pakistani grocery on Coney Island Avenue.
Abbas Razvi quickly developed a reputation as a neighborhood broker, helping customers find apartments and landlords find tenants. When people asked if he knew of any jobs, he wrote down their names and introduced them to potential employers. He extended credit to regulars, keeping their accounts in a binder behind the counter. Mohammad and his brothers worked in the store after school, stocking shelves, working the cash register, and cutting goat meat for customers. He learned English from his classmates, but, because he spoke Urdu at the store and at home, he remained fluent in his native language.
In the late eighties, Razvi attended Sheepshead Bay High School, where there were some Russian immigrants but almost no other Pakistanis. The year after he graduated, his mother took her sons on a trip to Pakistan, where she introduced them to relatives. When he met Narjis Razvi, a cousin by marriage, he recalled, “I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, she looks so beautiful.’ ” In July, 1990, Mohammad and Narjis married, in a town outside Lahore. Back in Brooklyn, they moved into an apartment above the grocery store, and before long Narjis gave birth to a daughter, named Aasma. Four more children followed.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 had allowed more people from Asia, Africa, and South America to come to the United States. Then the Immigration Act of 1990 increased the over-all number of visas. During the next decade, the Pakistani population in New York City grew from fifteen thousand to nearly forty thousand. Those who didn’t live in Little Pakistan flocked there. New immigrants came to buy spices, halal meat, and sweets, and to attend concerts by Pakistani musicians. Fareeha Haq, who grew up a mile away, recalls having kulfi, a traditional ice cream, with neighborhood children while her mother shopped at Punjab Grocery. “There were crowds and crowds of people all the time,” Haq said. “It was like a big bazaar filled with all different ages.” Makki Masjid came to occupy three buildings, but it was still not large enough: so many men attended Friday prayers that latecomers had to kneel on the sidewalk out front.
In the nineties, Razvi helped his father expand Punjab Grocery, and he opened a ninety-nine-cent store called Urdu Bazaar, across the street. Razvi started a construction company whose main business was renovating apartments, and the family bought four buildings containing rental units. “I was doing so great, I thought I was going to retire at thirty-five,” Razvi told me. In July, 2001, he signed a lease on two more Coney Island Avenue storefronts. He turned one into a restaurant, Punjab Sweets, and planned to open Punjab Fabrics, a clothing and textile shop, in the other.
On September 11, 2001, Razvi was at the D.M.V. in Coney Island, paying a ticket, when one of his brothers called and told him that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Within days, F.B.I. agents were knocking on doors in Little Pakistan, leaving business cards with handwritten messages: “Please call. I need to ask you some questions ASAP.” They apprehended immigrants at their homes, at their jobs, on the street. Women came into Punjab Grocery at all hours, saying that their son or husband had vanished. Many did not speak English, and rarely left the neighbourhood. “Some of these women, for ten, fifteen years, this was their four-block radius—that was it,” Razvi said. His father, who often enlisted him to navigate the world outside Little Pakistan, asked him to help these people.
Razvi would call the detention centre on Varick Street, in Manhattan, and then the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, and then a jail in Passaic, New Jersey. If he still hadn’t found the missing man, he’d try the county jails. Before long, he realized that his ignorance about the law wasn’t the only reason he was having trouble getting answers. When he gave his name, the response was often something to the effect of: “Whoa. What do you mean your name is Mohammad?” Once, when he called a jail in New Jersey, “they kept me on the phone for over an hour,” he said. He began using his high-school nickname, Moe, and found that, when he did, it was easier to get his questions answered.
The F.B.I.’s investigation into the 9/11 attacks became the largest in the Bureau’s history. By the following summer, it had led to the arrest of seven hundred and sixty-two immigrants across the country; nearly five hundred were picked up in New York, and two hundred and fifty-four were Pakistani. None of the 9/11 hijackers were from Pakistan, but law enforcement was concerned by Al Qaeda’s presence there. To Razvi, it appeared that many immigrants were arrested simply because they had overstayed their visas. “If they were looking for Jane Doe, they picked up John Doe and everyone else who didn’t have immigration paperwork,” he said. “They were fishing.”
In 2003, the Inspector General of the Justice Department released a report on this group of immigrants, who came to be known as the September 11 Detainees. It supported Razvi’s account: “We believe the FBI should have taken more care to distinguish between aliens who it actually suspected of having a connection to terrorism from those aliens who, while possibly guilty of violating federal immigration law, had no connection to terrorism.” A second report described the mistreatment of detainees at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where “some officers slammed detainees against the wall, twisted their arms and hands in painful ways, stepped on their leg restraint chains, and punished them by keeping them restrained for long periods of time.” Most of the September 11 Detainees were eventually deported for immigration violations.
In February, 2002, Razvi and his father turned the storefront intended for Punjab Fabrics into a home for copo. They planned to keep it open for about six months, but, that June, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the Special Registration Program. Any male visa holder who was over the age of fifteen and a citizen of one of five Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan—was required to report to an immigration office, where he would be photographed, fingerprinted, and interviewed under oath. The program soon expanded to include visa holders from twenty-five countries.
In December, 2002, Pakistan was added to the list, and Razvi held an emergency forum with lawyers from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Hundreds of Pakistani men crowded into the storefront. “This stuff is very, very, very complicated,” one of the lawyers said, as Razvi translated his words into Urdu. “There is a possibility that they might arrest you and detain you.” Many had overstayed their visas, and even those with pending green-card applications could be deported. By May, 2003, eighty-two thousand men had registered nationwide, and deportation proceedings had begun for more than thirteen thousand of them.
One was Shahid Ali Khan, the father of the disabled boy. Early one February morning, he joined the line of hundreds of men waiting to register with immigration officials at 26 Federal Plaza. Some were able to register without a long wait, but many were held for further questioning. Khan finally left at two o’clock the next morning, carrying a document called a “Notice to Appear,” which declared that he was “deportable.” The following month, he went before an immigration judge, the first step in the process that eventually led to his detention. Two years later, ice started deportation proceedings against his wife and son.
Rather than register, thousands of Pakistani men and their families fled Brooklyn; many settled in Canada or returned to Pakistan. In Little Pakistan, Razvi counted thirty businesses that shut down, including a barbershop next to Punjab Grocery. The proprietor simply abandoned his storefront, leaving spray bottles and a brush on the counter. The crowds on Coney Island Avenue vanished. “Special Registration is the thing that killed the community,” Razvi told me.
Many of those who stayed behind endured harassment and abuse. In the 2001–02 school years, Razvi’s eldest child, Aasma, was in the fifth grade at a public school in Brooklyn. She wore a Hijab, which made her a target. “That whole year, I was being bullied by the kid sitting next to me,” she said. “He’d say, ‘Your father is a terrorist. You need to go back to your country.’ ” The boy also said that if she told anyone how he spoke to her he would kill her. Aasma, who is now twenty-six and pursuing a Ph.D. in mental-health counselling, recalled, “I used to hide everything from my father, because I was sure he would get hurt.”
The following year, at Aasma’s middle school, a boy shoved her down the stairs and pulled off her head scarf. A girl attacked her at a bus stop, pushing her and calling her a “Muslim bitch.” Her father happened to be driving by, and when he did a U-turn the girl ran off. Aasma finally told him what had been happening to her. “Oh, my God, did he flip out,” she said.
Razvi visited Aasma’s schools to report her classmates’ behaviour, but he felt that his concerns were not taken seriously. He suggested to Aasma that she stop wearing a Hijab, as many other girls had done after 9/11. She tried that for one day, but then refused. “I felt so naked,” she told me. Razvi often told Aasma and her siblings, “You have nothing to do with 9/11. You have nothing to do with those bad people, and they have nothing to do with our religion.” But Aasma remembers thinking, “Yes, I am Muslim, and I am probably responsible for this horrific attack.” She became severely depressed.
As Aasma started eighth grade, Razvi enrolled all four of his school-age children in an Islamic school in Queens. “I did what I felt I needed to do just to keep them safe,” he said. All the girls at the new school wore Hijabs, and Aasma recalls thinking, “It’s a dream come true—everyone looks the way I do.” But after a few years the family could no longer afford the tuition, which totalled more than twenty-five thousand dollars a year, and eventually all four children returned to public school.
In 2002, the New York City Commission on Human Rights developed a survey to document discrimination against Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians since 9/11. The Council of Peoples Organization was one of several groups that circulated it, and Razvi enlisted his wife and children to help. Aasma handed out copies on Coney Island Avenue, at her school, and at mosques across the city. She recalled her father asking her for help documenting what was happening to her peers: “Probably they’re not telling their parents, like you didn’t tell me—but it’s very important to find out.”
Sarah Sayeed, a community activist, met Razvi around 2003, when she was working with a group called Women in Islam, Inc. “At that point, government really had little understanding of Muslim communities,” she said. “You had to be a broker—you had to explain our communities to electeds and agencies.” Sayeed, who is now a senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, recalled that Razvi brought the completed surveys with him to meetings with law-enforcement agents and city officials. “He would carry around this big, thick binder,” she said. “It was his documentation, and evidence to say, ‘Hey, look, this is what I’m dealing with—our community is in crisis.’ ”
In 2003, the F.B.I., in an effort to improve its relationship with Muslim communities, began holding town halls and meeting with local leaders. In May, Amy Jo Lyons, a counterterrorism supervisor in the New York office, spoke at Makki Masjid. “We’re in a war against terrorism, and we’re in it together,” she said, according to Newsday. That year, an F.B.I. agent recommended that Razvi attend the F.B.I. Citizens Academy, which teaches civilians how the Bureau works. Razvi did so, and afterward he invited agents to set up a table at the Pakistan Independence Day street festival, held each August on Coney Island Avenue. Later, he worked with the F.B.I. to establish an annual career fair, at a Brooklyn community college, where Muslim students learn about jobs in law enforcement.
Diego Redondo, an F.B.I. special agent who oversees the New York office’s community-outreach program, said that Razvi plays a “huge role” in the Bureau’s efforts. “You can genuinely see he really wants to make things better for the people in his community,” Redondo said. In 2012, the Bureau’s New York Division nominated Razvi for the Director’s Community Leadership Award, and he and his family went to Washington, D.C., to attend a ceremony with Robert Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time.
The N.Y.P.D., too, had been reaching out to Muslim communities. In 2011, though, the A.P. published the first in a series of articles revealing that, since 9/11, the N.Y.P.D.’s Intelligence Division had systematically spied on Muslims. Plainclothes officers monitored cafés and other gathering places, while informants infiltrated mosques and student groups. Many Muslim leaders were outraged when they learned of the surveillance, and demanded the resignation of the N.Y.P.D. commissioner, Raymond Kelly. Razvi was one of the few who publicly defended the police. Civil-liberties groups filed two lawsuits against the N.Y.P.D. over the program; this spring, the city settled the cases. Still, Razvi maintained his support for some of the surveillance operations. “All of our mosques are open,” he told me. “If there is a bad person, we want the N.Y.P.D. inside to make sure it’s O.K.”
Fahd Ahmed, the executive director of drum, a South Asian immigrants’-rights organization in Queens, told me that he thought Razvi’s close ties to law enforcement compromised him as a community activist. “There is a commitment to that relationship and essentially to being a legitimizer for law enforcement within our communities,” Ahmed said.
Sayeed, the Mayor’s adviser, said, “People who were perceived as siding with the police department still haven’t won back the trust of the community, in the same way that the police department hasn’t fully earned the trust.” She added, “It takes a long time to work through these things.”
This past February, twelve days after Trump’s Inauguration, Razvi sat in his office, where an enormous American flag covers the wall behind his desk. “Today, guess who comes to see me,” he said, holding up a white folder labelled “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” A woman from ice’s community-relations office had stopped by to introduce herself and to leave the folder, which contained promotional materials. Razvi said that he told her, referring to ice, “I’ll be blunt—people hate you.” But he took note of one flyer, about the ice Detention Reporting and Information Line, and pulled it out to make copies. “I never had this before,” he said. Now, if he heard that an immigrant had disappeared, he would know what number to call first.
Razvi tried to hide his fears about immigration raids, he told me, “because if I show the worry it’s going to be a ripple effect.” False rumours were spreading through Little Pakistan, including one about immigration agents making arrests at the Church Avenue subway station. Strangers were approaching him on the street, to tell him that they were concerned about their legal status and to beg for his help. One Sunday, he spoke to men at a local mosque about what to do if a law-enforcement agent stopped them: “We want you to stay quiet. Say, ‘I won’t answer any more questions until I speak to an attorney.’ ”
Afterward, the imam told the group that, if they were fearful, maybe they should consider moving to Canada. Razvi was taken aback, though he understood the appeal. A decade earlier, he had visited Toronto and run into the man who had abandoned his barbershop. “He had a house, his own business. He had everything happening for him,” Razvi recalled. “He’s, like, ‘I’m living the American Dream—in Canada!’ ” Razvi’s brother D.C., who runs a store across the street from Punjab Grocery, heard people talking about moving to Canada every day. “Nobody has actually done it,” he said. “But everyone is preparing.”
At his office, Razvi has dozens of the business cards that F.B.I. agents left at doors in the neighbourhood after 9/11, and a red I.D. bracelet that a detainee wore in a New Jersey jail. Seated at his computer, he opened an old document: a twenty-three-page time line of events that followed 9/11, including the introduction of the Special Registration Program and hundreds of arrests and deportations. He said of Trump, “What if he says, ‘O.K., now I want all the Muslims to register’? That’s triggering in my mind. That’s my fear—going back to square one.” He went on, “And if, God forbid, something does happen”—if there is another terrorist attack in the U.S.—“what will happen with this Administration? That’s what’s killing me.”
On a Thursday morning this March, Razvi took the subway to the F.B.I.’s New York Field Office, at 26 Federal Plaza, to attend a meeting of an advisory group called the Muslim Leaders Council. The group, which Razvi helped found in 2015, includes an imam from Côte d’Ivoire who runs a mosque in East Harlem, the founder of the Moroccan-American Council to Empower Women, and the imam of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center of Staten Island. Diego Redondo, of the community-outreach program, told me, “They wanted to be reassured that they still had a positive relationship with the F.B.I.”
That evening, an F.B.I. staff member e-mailed Razvi a statement from a spokesperson, which explained that the Bureau’s authorities “do not extend to immigration matters that are handled by various components of the Department of Homeland Security.” It continued, “We believe it is critical to our mission to have an ongoing, two-way dialogue with the various diverse communities we serve.” Razvi told me that, when he read the e-mail, “I was so happy. The wording is very, very important to me.”
The next afternoon, he took a stack of copies of the statement to Al-Mahdi, the mosque where he worships. After Friday prayers ended, he grabbed a microphone and announced that he had met with the F.B.I. the day before. “They are not going to be asking anybody about their immigration status or picking them up,” he said, distributing the copies. Razvi headed to Makki Masjid, where hundreds of men were streaming out the doors. He stood on the sidewalk, handing out the statement and receiving appreciative hugs. Afterward, when he was back in his office, a weary-looking man in a black vest and a black jacket walked in. “The famous Mohsin Zaheer!” Razvi said. Zaheer, a reporter for Sada-e-Pakistan, a local Urdu-language newspaper, often came to see him after Friday prayers. “You’re one of the persons I should give this paper to,” Razvi said. “Look what they gave me.”
Zaheer read the statement. “This is good, very good,” he said. “Once you scare the community, they’re not going to talk.” For the F.B.I., this was the crucial point. Last year, after Trump claimed that Muslim Americans don’t notify law enforcement about suspicious people in their communities, James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, corrected him. “Some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim,” Comey said. “It’s at the heart of the F.B.I.’s effectiveness to have good relationships with these folks.”
Since 9/11, Razvi has worried about the long-term effects on Muslim children of being harassed and abused. He remembered what Aasma had endured in school, and feared that another child in the same situation might turn to violence later in life. “As adults, we can understand and relate to hate crimes at this moment, but the kids—it’s going to burn in their memories,” he said. “You’re just not going to be able to erase that.”
On Sundays, the Moroccan-American Council to Empower Women holds Arabic classes for children at copo. By March, a few of the students had reported being targeted in public schools. Razvi brought in three city officials, including Detective Mohamed Amen, from the N.Y.P.D.’s Community Affairs Bureau. Amen, who was born in Egypt and has a law degree from Cairo University, spoke to the students in a mixture of Arabic and English, telling them, “Be proud of who you are. We are American, and we are Muslim. Be very proud.”
There were about forty children in the room, most of them in elementary or middle school, and several mothers. A tall boy raised his hand, stood, and asked, “What if the President told all the police and the F.B.I. to, um, like, harassinate people—are you going to do that?”
Amen said, “President Trump, he is our President. I can’t deny that. He can command federal agencies—meaning the F.B.I., immigration enforcement—but he cannot direct the New York City Police Department.” He added, “Our rules and regulations tell us not to stop someone based on their immigration status.”
The youngest children were wriggling in their chairs. “I want everyone to know that this is your police department, O.K.? This is your city,” Amen said. “You guys are future leaders. You know that, right?” He went on, “You’ve got to show them who you are, what you’re made of, in everything. Your behaviour at school should be the best. Your look, your smell . . . Everything should be the best that you are, O.K.? That’s very important. Then, Insha Allah, through your success, you’re going to prove everybody wrong.”
He asked, “Who’s going to promise me here to become a senator?” Three children put up their hands. “Who’s going to become a lawyer?” Four hands went up. “Who’s going to become a doctor?” Five hands.
When the children had finished asking questions, the mothers, all wearing Hijabs, started raising their hands. One said that a man in a passing car had “called me names, bad names, in front of my kids—he called me bin Laden!” A pregnant woman, wearing a floral-print head scarf, stood, with her young daughter clinging to her leg. She explained that she was a “working mom,” and described a recent encounter on a subway platform. “Somebody was about to hit me,” she said. “Thank God, I escaped.” About a week later, she saw the same man, and noticed that he was looking at her again. “I don’t know what to do,” she said.
On Thursday, June 8th, Shahid Ali Khan walked into Razvi’s office, wearing a white dress shirt, gray slacks, and black leather shoes. When he sat in a chair facing Razvi’s desk, he looked defeated. “I’m coming from Federal Plaza,” he said.
Khan, his wife, and his son had just left the ice Enforcement and Removal Field Office, where they were required to appear every nine months. Their deportation orders were still in place, but each year the family’s attorney, Elinor Drucker Rahmani, had requested a “stay of removal,” and each time the request had been approved. “But this time they tell me, ‘You have no chance,’ ” Khan said.
“How many days?” Razvi asked.
“They gave me only until July 6th to go back.”
Razvi pushed a box of tissues across his desk. As Khan sat in silence, pressing a tissue to his eyes, Razvi found the Newsday story about Khan and the thank-you card that Mansoor had made, and went to scan them. He wanted to send them to ice.
Back in Islamabad, Khan had owned a house and two pieces of land. But over the years he sold them to help cover his son’s medical expenses. In 2007, he started driving a yellow cab. After saving a few thousand dollars to buy a used car, he began driving for Lyft and Juno this year, and he now takes home about four hundred dollars a week.
Mansoor, who is twenty-two, attended a public school for children with special needs, where he received speech, physical, and occupational therapy, and he continues to see specialists at Mount Sinai Medical Centre. He can now speak, although it’s not always easy for strangers to understand him. When he was fourteen, he stopped using a feeding tube. By last year, he no longer needed a wheelchair, although his gait remains unsteady. Still, Khan noted, “He cannot do anything himself. If he goes to the bathroom, we help him.” He gestured toward his shoes. “He cannot tie the laces.” His physicians have said that it is essential that the family remain in the U.S., because Mansoor would not be able to receive the necessary treatment in Pakistan.
Drucker Rahmani was with them that day at ice. She called Khan, and after they spoke briefly he handed the phone to Razvi. By now, Razvi was blinking back tears. He told Drucker Rahmani that he wanted to write to a contact at ice; she explained that first she needed to file another request for a stay of deportation. She told me that she was not optimistic. “The political climate is a lot different now,” she said.
As Razvi worked at his computer, Khan sat silently, staring at the floor, hands clasped in his lap. On July 6th, the family will return to the ice office. Ultimately, if the government doesn’t grant them a reprieve, immigration agents will put the family on a plane back to Pakistan. “Go home and pray,” Razvi told Khan. “I’m going to pray, too.” ?
Jennifer Gonnerman joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2015. She is the author of “Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett.”