La Crosse attorney: Federally charged Afghan evacuees can be deported if convicted

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Afghan evacuees Bahrullah Noori and Mohammad Haroon Imaad appeared in federal court in Madison Thursday for crimes they are accused of committing at Fort McCoy.

Noori is charged with three counts of engaging in sexual acts with two minors, one of which alleges the use of force.

Imaad is accused of assaulting his wife by strangling and nearly suffocating her.

“These are serious offenses in immigration,” said Chuck Berendes, an immigration attorney with Pittman & Pittman Law Offices in La Crosse.

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The men could be deported if they are convicted, Berendes said.

“The narrow path that they would have to sneak through to have nothing happen in terms of immigration consequences at this point is highly unlikely,” he said.

And even if they aren’t convicted in criminal court, they still can be convicted in immigration court if they admit any wrongdoing, which also qualifies for deportation.

“They’re in a tricky spot,” Berendes said.

Congress made criminal laws in ways that non-American citizens face tougher punishments than regular citizens, he said.

“Immigration is a privilege in large part,” he said. “And if a person violates the laws of the United States … then I think the view is maybe you’re not worthy of that privilege.”

Life is stressful for the 12,000 evacuees at Fort McCoy, Berendes said.

“Now that being said, do I think Fort McCoy is unsafe? In my experience, no, I don’t think it’s unsafe,” he said.

And Berendes says it’s at least much better for them temporarily living on a military base compared to the uncertainty they fled from in Afghanistan.

If convicted, Noori could face up to life in federal prison.

Imaad’s max sentence if he’s convicted is 10 years.

Imaad’s trial date is set for Nov. 1.

No trial date is set for Noori yet.

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