Double Jeopardy Immigration Case in Florida

Tampa-based engineering student survives Kafka-esque ordeal in U.S. immigration court.

Youssef Megahed, a Tampa-based engineering student, was acquitted of terrorism-related charges and walked out of an immigration court a free man last month, after a judge rejected the U.S. government’s bid to deport him on identical charges.

Judge Kenneth Hurewitz had sided with Department of Homeland Security lawyers in 2008 in a similar case when he’d ordered the removal of a Miami man to his Haitian homeland after he had been acquitted of terror-conspiracy charges. Hurewitz had deported Lyglenson Lemorin.

Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-based immigration attorney, offered some conjecture. “The government’s lawyers misunderstood that every case is different and you must plead what you’re going to prove,” he said of the Megahed case. “They failed to do that.”

Lemorin, 34, one of the so-called Liberty City Seven defendants, has a good shot of winning on appeal which will come up sometime this fall, although he remains in custody.

Megahed and Lemorin are legal U.S. residents lacking criminal histories who have resided in the country for several years or more. Both endured a rare brand of “double jeopardy” – being charged a second time in immigration court following acquittals in federal court.

Megahed, a 23-year-old former student at the University of South Florida, was arrested on a 2007 road trip in South Carolina along with a fellow classmate, Ahmed Mohamed. Both were charged with transporting explosives after police found model rocket propellants in the car’s trunk.

Mohamed was also charged with providing “material support” for terrorism, because he created a You Tube video that showed how to convert a remote control toy vehicle into a bomb. He pleaded guilty to that charge last spring.

In early April, Megahed was acquitted in Tampa federal court on the explosives charges after his defense attorney argued that the material found in the trunk – PVC pipe and chemicals—were homemade fireworks.
But a few days later, Megahed, while leaving a Wal-Mart store with his father, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He was charged again with the same terrorism-related explosives offense, only this time in immigration court, which is part of the Justice Department and has a lower standard of proof.

Megahed, who has lived in the United States since the age of 11, faced deportation. His family, the Muslim community, and civil rights advocates, and others – including four jurors in his criminal case – expressed outrage.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee or to learn more about Houston immigration lawyer, immigration lawyer in Houston, Houston immigration attorney, visit their information filled web site at