By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
HARBERT — Ibrahim Parlak is safe for at least one more year.
Parlak and his supporters learned Friday that the Harbert restauranteur was given a one-year extension on his deferral of deportation from the Department of Homeland Security.
The extension means Parlak, who owns Cafe Gulistan in Harbert, cannot be deported within the next 12 months.
“It doesn’t have any impact on our case,” Parlak said. “One year gives us a little more time to work on a more permanent solution. We don’t know how it is going to be reached.”
Parlak said the DHS Detroit field office contacted his lawyer and sent a written confirmation with word of the deferral.
The deferral was set to expire midnight Wednesday, after Parlak was given a 90-day reprieve shortly before Christmas.
When Wednesday came and went, Parlak waited two more days before learning of his extension.
“It was uncomfortable not knowing if someone is going to knock down your door,” he said. “We are thankful and take comfort in this news.”
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, issued statements Friday on the news of Parlak’s one-year extension.
The two House members had sent a two-page letter in January to DHS and Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials in support of the motion to reopen Parlak’s case. The letter asked for officials to refrain from opposing the motion.
“We can all breathe a small sigh of relief now that we have a one-year reprieve for our friend and neighbor Ibrahim,” said Upton, who has supported Parlak since 2004. “It has truly been a bipartisan, all-hands-on-deck effort these past few weeks to make this happen. Now, our focus will be on finding a bipartisan solution that keeps Ibrahim here at home permanently. We’re going to keep up our full court press on Ibrahim’s behalf.”
Parlak and his deferral
The last extension on the deferral came after Parlak filed a brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals to see if he could remain in the country under the Convention Against Torture – an international law that protects refugees from being returned under threat of torture or death.
In February, Parlak received a government brief arguing against his motion to reopen his case for further examination. The government is arguing that Turkey hasn’t changed much in the 11 years since Parlak’s previous request was first considered and denied.
Now Parlak waits for the board’s decision on the motion to reopen his case.
Robert Carpenter, Parlak’s attorney, said they expect to hear from the board by late spring or early summer. However, Carpenter said it could take longer given the history of Parlak’s case.
“They have tremendous volumes of cases,” Carpenter said. “But we have three expert opinions that were given to the board on the condition of Turkey. Given the lengthy history of the case, it will take them some time to review the case.”