U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Throwing Rocks at Armed Israeli Soldiers Deemed a Terrorist Act

A Palestinian man lost his petition to immigrate to the United States because he threw rocks at Israel soldiers when he was 13 years old, a federal appeals court said.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the man's childhood act was "admittedly minor, when compared with the worst terrorists acts," but also said its hands were effectively tied. The appellate panel said that it had limited authority to review the consular's discretionary decision in Hazama v. Tillerson.

"This was a discretionary call, and it would not have been outside the consular officer's discretion to consider this as an act of juvenile rebellion rather than an act of terrorism," Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court.

Hands Tied

Ahmed Abdel Hafiz Ghneim had filed an application for a U.S. permanent resident's visa so that he could join his wife Samira Hazama, a U.S. citizen, in Illinois.

The Department of Homeland Security approved Hazama's petition, but a consular officer in Jerusalem denied her husband's application for the rock-throwing incident and other reasons. Ghneim had been illegally in the U.S. and removed in the past.

Although sympathetic to the couple, the appeals court said it could not get around the consular's characterization of the "terrorist act." The petitioner's lawyer argued that the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem regularly prolongs visa applications and denies those coming from Palestine, but the court said that was not in the record.

"All we can do is to look at the face of the decision, see if the officer cited a proper ground under the statute, and ensure that no other applicable constitutional limitations are violated," Judge Wood said. "Once that is done, if the undisputed record includes facts that would support that ground, our task is over."

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