Waheed Saleh says he was smoking a cigarette outside a doughnut shop in the Bronx when a police officer handed him a summons for disorderly conduct. He protested, he says, and the officer yelled at him to go back to his own country. Saleh, a Palestinian, worked as a gypsy-cab driver illegally seeking fares and was used to tickets for infractions like double parking, making U-turns and picking up passengers. But he believed that this officer, Kishon Hickman, was harassing him. So he complained to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which examines complaints against police officers.
Before he heard back from the board, however, he heard from federal immigration authorities, reports the New York Times. About a year later, outside the same doughnut shop on the night of Dec. 20, 2004, he was confronted by a federal immigration agent and local police officers. The police took him into custody on administrative immigration violations, sending him into deportation proceedings. Saleh believes it was retaliation for his civilian review board complaint. The case has turned into something with potentially far larger ramifications: it appears to be the first test case of Executive Order 41, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s two-year-old effort to reassure the city’s immigrants that they can seek help from city agencies without fear of reprisal based on illegal immigration status. The order essentially codified a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for city workers.