Megahed remains in immigration custody

Former USF student Youssef Megahed, who was arrested Monday by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, remains in custody.

“Megahed was arrested for civil violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” said Ivan Ortiz, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.

Adam Allen, Megahed’s lawyer, said he was moved to the Krome Detention Center in Miami, where he will wait to see if he can appear before an immigration judge and ask for bond approval.

“I’ve been advised that, given the nature of the grounds for which they are seeking deportation, he is not entitled to a bond,” Allen said.

Immigration Attorney Neil Lewis said he has heard of cases where the person in custody was constantly moved around by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep them from appearing before an immigration judge and asking for bail.

He said he is doubtful this will occur in Megahed’s case, however, because Immigration and Customs Enforcement knows many people are following the case.

If denied bond, Megahed would remain in custody until from Immigration and Customs Enforcement sets a trial date.

Allen said he finds it ironic that Megahed could be denied the right for a bond trial.

“He was out on bond while facing criminal charges for the same thing,” he said.

Megahed was acquitted Friday by a federal jury for illegally transporting explosive materials and for possessing a destructive device.

Lewis said that unlike Megahed’s federal trial, Immigration and Customs Enforcement could find him guilty if they feel a majority of the evidence applies to the charges.

“In criminal court, they are trying to put you in jail. In immigration court, they are trying to deny you the opportunity to live here,” Lewis said. “They view those as different things, therefore double jeopardy does not apply. Immigration would say just because (Megahed) was found not guilty does not mean he is innocent.”

Lewis said anyone non-U.S. citzen can be arrested and taken to jail if immigration believes a person has violated a law that could cause them to be deported.

“Mr. Megahed is subject to potential loss of his lawful permanent resident status and deportation if he is found to have violated certain immigration laws,” he said. “The charged immigration violations differ significantly from those charged in his criminal case, and he will have the opportunity to present the facts of his case before an immigration judge.”

Megahed and his family are permanent U.S. residents and had been applying for citizenship when he was first arrested in August 2007, Allen said.

Lewis said he believes the allegation against Megahed will be that he engaged
activities or plotted to engage in terrorist activities.

Allen said Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been following Megahed since the date of his acquittal, but it is unknown at this time why he was arrested Monday outside of the Bruce B. Downs Wal-Mart.

Ortiz said the reason Megahed’s arrested outside of Wal-Mart, as opposed to another location, could not be disclosed because that information is part of the ongoing investigation.

Megahed’s father could not be reached for comment, but he said to the Tampa Tribune that immigration agents surrounded him and his son as they exited the store.

Allen said it is unknown when Megahed will be notified that he can see an immigration judge.