Indian filmmaker asked to leave U.S. within 90 days

The drama over the arrest of Indian documentary filmmaker Vijay Kumar in Houston for possessing jihadi literature and a set of brass knuckles, took a new turn with a U.S. court ordering him voluntary departure under safeguard till he leaves USA

Indian filmmaker Vijay Kumar will remain behind bars without bail on federal immigration charges until allegations that he was illegally carrying brass knuckles in his checked airport baggage are resolved, a judge has ruled.

The immigration hearing was held on schedule but the judge denied a bond, and ordered voluntary departure under safeguard till he leaves USA.

Mr. Kumar has been asked to leave within 90 days.

Voluntary bond means that his departure as an alien from the United States would be without an order of removal.

Mr. Kumar is allowed to voluntarily depart concedes removability but does not have a bar to seeking admission at a port-of-entry at any time.

However, failure to depart within the time would result in a fine and a 10-year bar to several forms of relief from deportation. And if he does not depart within the 90-day period he will be deported.

However, his departure primarily depends on his criminal case hearing on Sept 8.

Unless the case is dismissed he cannot leave. If his case is resolved within four months, he can leave voluntarily and can ask to return.

Till then the judge has asked him to be in immigration custody.

Mr. Kumar has not yet been charged by immigration judge.

Mr. Kumar bonded out on Aug 23 and surrendered his passport to Harris County officials as a condition of his bail. When released, Mr. Kumar’s visa was revoked.

He was then detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, because he had neither a passport nor a visa.

At a hearing yesterday, a federal immigration judge refused to set a bail for Kumar. Federal officials would not say why Mr. Kumar’s visa was revoked.

John Connolly, assistant agent in charge of ICE in Houston, said that Mr. Kumar is not the subject of a homeland security investigation.

Mr. Kumar turned down an offer to plead guilty in exchange for time served because he did not want to jeopardise his chances to return to America, Mr. Kumar’s attorney Grant Scheiner said.

Now he faces the same dilemma.

If his case is resolved within four months, he can leave voluntarily and can ask to return.

If the case takes longer, he will be deported after it is complete, squelching his chances to return.

Mr. Kumar, 40, a resident of Malad in Mumbai, was detained at Houston International airport for allegedly carrying brass knuckles and jihadist literature in his luggage and is now in federal custody since last week. Mr. Kumar could get a jail term of up to 10 years if convicted – Thehindu