The imam of a Connecticut mosque was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New Haven, Connecticut, last week and faces deportation over “fraud in his immigration documents,” according to ICE.
Hafiz Abdul Hannan has been the head of the Masjid Al-Islam mosque since 2013, and was a community leader in Massachusetts before that, according to the New Haven Register.
“Everybody was shocked to see him being arrested only a few hours before the Friday prayers, a few days before the month of Ramadan, when the community is getting ready for this important holy month,” Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Connecticut branch, told NBC News.
The Masjid Al-Islam did not immediately respond to a request for comment but a statement on the mosque’s website instructs community members not to speak to media about Hannan’s immigration detention.
“The majlis will make a statement if deemed necessary with more insight into the situation,” the statement reads, referring to other mosque leaders.
In a statement to Fusion, a New England regional ICE spokesperson, Shawn Neudauer, said Hannan is being held in ICE custody pending deportation:
On May 19, ICE officers arrested Hafiz Abdul Hannan, a citizen of Pakistan, at his residence in New Haven, Connecticut, on an outstanding final order of removal (deportation order) issued by an immigration judge in March 2016. Hannan has a previous federal conviction for committing fraud in his immigration documents. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal from the United States.
They did not provide further details on the fraud conviction, but the Harford Courant reports that Hannan was arrested in 2006 for taking part in a network that stretched across eight states that allegedly helped immigrants obtain religious workers’ visas while working non-religious jobs at places like gas stations and factories, and as truck drivers.
As the Associated Press notes, it’s not clear if Hannan has a lawyer representing him available to comment.
The arrest comes in the wake of two separate executive orders from the Trump administration targeting Muslim immigrants and travelers—both have been stayed in the courts after civil rights lawyers argued that they unconstitutionally discriminate against Muslim Americans on the basis of their faith.