Berrien County restaurant owner fighting to stay in America

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 7:42 PM EST
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HARBERT, Mich. (WNDU) - WNDU has been following this story for decades.

Now, a Berrien County restaurant owner, Ibrahim Parlak, is facing a new deportation battle.

This comes after a judge in 2018 granted Parlak permission to stay in the United States, after fleeing from Turkey back in the ‘90′s.

On Monday, a press conference was held at Cafe Gulistan, Parlak’s restaurant, in Harbert.

Parlak’s attorney says the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is appealing Parlak’s “2018 win” not because of something that happened in the courtroom but simply because of a transcription of Parlak’s past court testimony from an audio recording.

On Oct. 31, the BIA issued a decision to return the case back to the immigration judge. This is due to the Dept. of Justice’s record of Parlak’s past court testimony, which found 400 plus times when a professional transcriber, who was not in the courtroom, failed to understand Parlak’s answers to the judge’s questions.

“No question was ever raised by the immigration judge about her understanding of what the testimony was,” explained Robert Carpenter, Parlak’s attorney. “I had no issues understanding Ibrahim for all four of those hours, and either the government lawyer, so it’s not an issue of what happened in the courtroom. It’s an issue of what the transcriber says happened in the courtroom from his or her review of the audio record.”

“Yes, I understand, I have Kurdish-English,” Parlak said. “My whole adult life has been here. I mean, friends, family, and business. Everything I have, it’s here.”

Back in 2020, Parlak told WNDU that the Department of Homeland Security wrote in a brief filed about him that he had no ties to a Kurdish organization since 1991, when he moved to the United States, nor does he have any activities that would interest the Turkish government, reportedly rationalizing those reasons would prevent Parlak from being tortured in Turkey, where he no longer has citizenship because the country took it away.

But Parlak says he’s almost certain he’d be killed at a Turkish airport.

“Then they can blame, ‘Oh, some extremist did it, or who did it,’ or whatever. So that they can clean themself,” Parlak said.

“This isn’t just Ibrahim saying he’s going to be tortured by the Government of Turkey, an immigration judge found exactly that in 2018,” Carpenter said. “She found that he had been tortured in the past by the Government of Turkey and would be again, and that’s why CAT relief was granted. And so, you know, this is not paranoia. This is reality for Ibrahim unfortunately.”

Next week, Parlak’s team will file an appeal with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. They will also be filing a motion to reopen the BIA.