Ins Plans To Deport Norwegian Woman Under Post Sept. 11 Policy

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Southern Oregon resident Kari Rein's homeland of
Norway has never been seen as a hotbed for Islamic terrorism, yet she
is risking deporation under strict post Sept. 11 immigration policies.

Rein, 42, and her husband James Jungwirth, 41, a U.S. citizen, have
lived in Williams, near Grants Pass, for 15 years. They run an herb
and seaweed harvesting business and have a 14-year-old daughter and a
7-year-old son.

But immigration officials want to send her back to Norway because more
than a decade ago Rein was convicted of growing six marijuana plants
for personal use.

According to Rein's attorney, immigration officials say the conviction
qualifies as an aggravated felony and mandates deportation under 1990s
immigration rules that have received souped-up enforcement since the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, said she can't discuss the details of specific cases but
said federal law mandates deportation of some people.

"Drug offenses are for the most part convictions that make a person
deportable," Kice said.

That warranted detaining Rein for three weeks after customs officials
seized her at Sea-Tac airport on Dec. 30, according to a report in the
Oregonian newspaper Thursday.

The couple had just returned with their two children from a vacation
in Norway when she was stopped.

"If there are questions about the case, we want to err on the side of
caution," in detaining foreigners, Kice said.

But Rein's Portland attorney, David N. Shomloo, himself a naturalized
U.S. citizen from Iran, said immigration officials have acted far too
aggressively since Sept 11.

"It makes the hair on my neck stand up because it reminds me of
conditions in Iran, a country we say is in the 'Axis of Evil,' "
Shomloo said. "They make no distinctions, whether it's a 5-2 Norwegian
woman convicted of growing marijuana for personal use to somebody
who's been convicted of a sex offense."

Rein was convicted in 1993 of growing and possessing marijuana in
Josephine County. She received probation and was ordered to do
community service.

According to a transcript of the sentencing hearing, the judge said he
was satisfied that she had grown the marijuana for personal use.

"And I'm also satisfied that the two of you are people who are capable
of being productive and are being productive in society," the judge
continued, "and I don't think at this point that jail really serves
any benefit to anyone."

Shomloo said immigration officials did not routinely deport people in
such circumstances then, but since Sept. 11, they have become far more
aggressive in rounding up aliens convicted of deportable crimes, no
matter how minor.

Rein has been released on bail but immigration officials say they plan
to deport her.

Jungwirth said growing marijuana was the biggest mistake of their
lives, but they've learned their lesson and paid their debt to society.

"But the thought of being faced with either being separated as a
family or of uprooting everything we have here and moving to Norway so
we can be together isn't an easy thing to be looking at," Jungwirth
said.


Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2004
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Webpage:
http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-4/107476738625540.xml
Copyright: 2004 The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
Website: OregonLive.com