Declaring that a Marxist faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization "advocates illegal and violent methods to overthrow the United States," government attorneys have moved to return to jail eight immigrants facing deportation because they allegedly belong to the faction.
Government briefs, filed late Monday in U.S. Immigration Court in Los Angeles, seek to overturn a bond hearing decision Feb. 17 by Immigration Judge Roy C. Daniels, who allowed the immigrants to be released from jail while awaiting their deportation hearing, set for April 28.
The bond case will be heard before five judges of the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va. No date has yet been set for the hearing.
In the new briefs, which add some details to previous allegations, the government accused the eight of playing active roles in the faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The faction, it said, "operates both overt and covert missions in the United States to carry out its goals" of destroying the United States and Israel.
The language closely paralleled a confidential FBI report, disclosed by The Times on Monday, which charged that the group was "seeking to destroy (the United States') form of government by other than legal means."
Neither the FBI report nor the briefs said that the Palestinians traveling on Jordanian passports were about to commit violent acts in the United States. Addressing this point in legal arguments for the first time, the government said it does not have "to show specific acts of sabotage or incitement to subversive action" to deport the aliens under the 35-year-old McCarran-Walter Act--only that each defendant "espouses communism and acts in the United States to advance that doctrine. . . . "
Immigration and Naturalization Service attorneys had urged Judge Daniels to listen to government testimony in secret to support their contention that the immigrants represented national security and flight risks and should therefore be denied bond. Daniels refused and released five of the immigrants on their own recognizance and three on low bail.
"The immigration judge clearly erred and abused his discretion," said INS attorney Melainie Fitzsimmons, who wrote the briefs filed on Monday.
The immigrants' lead counsel, Dan Stormer, said the briefs amounted to "a clear attempt to use rhetoric instead of substance. It's exactly the same argument that was rejected by (Immigration Judge) Daniels and which I believe will be rejected by the board."
All of the defendants--seven Palestinians and a Kenyan arrested and jailed last Jan. 26--have denied being connected to the PFLP, which has a history of violence in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, primarily in the 1970s.
Khader Musa Hamide, 32, of Glendale, accused of being the group's leader in California, came under the sharpest government attack in the new court filings. Hamide, a longtime political activist, was accused of being "a dominant leader" of the PFLP who "works full time on behalf of the" faction.
Hamide, whom Fitzsimmons said entered the United States in 1971 "as a PFLP member . . . distributes (PFLP) literature in Southern California and Arizona" and speaks and writes on behalf of the PLO faction.
Hamide's Kenyan wife, Julie Nyangugi Mungai, 28, helped Hamide with PFLP fund raising and worked "in liaison with (PFLP) front organizations . . . and with other third party organizations" whose functions were similar to the PFLP, the government alleged.
Labeled 'a Leader'
Another defendant, Michel Shehadeh, 30, of Long Beach, who entered the United States in 1982, was for the first time labeled by the government as "a leader of the PFLP in the L.A. area and a close confidant of Hamide."
The other five defendants, all between the ages of 23 and 26, were "trusted" PFLP "cadres" who operated "under Khader Hamide's leadership" and participated in PFLP fund raising and distribution of PFLP literature, the briefs said.
Arguing to keep the immigrants free will be Ramsey Clark, a member of the immigrants' legal team who was U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and San Francisco attorney Marc Van Der Hout, another member of the legal team and a veteran immigration lawyer.