A U.S. Congressman has introduced legislation to prevent the deportation of a Pakistani woman and her four daughters. The woman's husband had been killed in an incident attributed to an anti-Muslim backlash after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Waqar Hasan left his native Pakistan in 1993, seeking a better life in the United States after surviving an armed robbery on the streets of Karachi.
A year later his wife Duri and their four daughters joined him in Milltown, New Jersey, where they had relatives nearby.
Mr. Hasan supported his family by running several area gas stations.
In September 2001, he traveled to Dallas, Texas to help his brother open a convenience store, and planned to move his family there when the business took hold.
But the plans never materialized. Four days after the September 11 attacks, Mr. Hasan was shot and killed at the store by a man who later said he took the action in revenge for the attacks.
Shortly before his death, Mr. Hasan called his family to express concern for their safety amid scattered reports of anti-Muslim bias immediately after September 11.
Congressman Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, has taken an interest in the case. "Waqar Hasan may not have died in the World Trade Center, but he and his family were clearly victims of the Septmeber 11th attacks," he said.
Mr. Hasan had been in the United States on a work visa, and had applied for permanent residency for himself and his family. But his wife's and daughters' visas and green card applications were dependent on his visa, and with his death, they face deportation.
Congressman Holt's legislation would prevent that. "I believe it would be a stain, a blot, on America, for us to allow this family to be deported," he said. "The idea that the man who murdered Waqar Hasan can stay in this country while the Hasans face deportation would be a tragic injustice, and we should not accept it."
Mark Anthony Stroman admitted to killing Mr. Hasan as well as another man, who was of Indian descent, and shooting a third, a Bangladeshi, out of revenge for the terrorist attacks. Stroman is now on death row.
As for Mr. Hasan's family, they are coping as best they can. His wife Duri appeared at Congressman Holt's news conference on Capitol Hill. "We are hoping that we can get through this," he said.
The family has trouble paying its bills. Duri works a night job at a factory in New Jersey. Three teenage daughters have part time jobs after school.
Daughter Anum says the support of many Americans, even those she does not know, has helped. "You would not believe how much support we have gotten, how nice people have been," she said.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has agreed to suspend deportation proceedings while Congressman Holt's legislation moves forward. Mr. Holt says he hopes the bill will pass in the coming months.