PORTLAND, Maine — The Pakistani man detained in Maine during an investigation of a botched car bombing in New York City’s Times Square no longer faces deportation and is pursuing permanent residence status so he can remain with his wife in South Portland, his attorney said Thursday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped its deportation request last month for Mohammad Shafiq Rahman of South Portland, said Cynthia Arn, his immigration attorney.
Rahman was one of three Pakistani men detained May 13 in New England during the Times Square investigation. He was held for 15 weeks on a visa violation before being released in August. The man who has admitted to leaving an SUV rigged with a homemade bomb in Times Square on May 1, Faisal Shahzad, has been sentenced to life in prison.
“Clearly, a determination has been made there’s nothing controversial about this case any more as far as immigration is concerned,” Arn said.
Rahman’s former employer, Larry Adlerstein, expressed frustration with the federal bureaucracy over the slow pace of the immigration proceedings.
“This did not have to take so long. It was very obvious that a Pakistani person is low on the totem pole as far as justice in his country. And I’m embarrassed for our country,” said Adlerstein, owner of Portland-based Artist & Craftsman Supply, a company with more than a dozen stores from Portland to Los Angeles.
Adlerstein said he’s loaning money to Rahman to help pay administrative costs for obtaining his green card and to help Rahman with back rent to avoid being evicted.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press.
Because of Rahman’s lengthy detention, Adlerstein had to hire a replacement computer programmer. But he said he plans to make room for Rahman on his staff. “I have an obligation to Shafiq to make up for the injustices he has suffered at the hands of our bureaucracies,” he said.
Rahman’s wife, Sara, didn’t immediately return messages. Adlerstein said she proved her devotion by sticking with Rahman during some tough times. “I think Sara has proved their love. Their relationship is stronger for the experience. That’s the feeling I get,” he said.
Associated Press writer Clarke Canfield contributed to this report.