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The Immunity Doctrine


On October 13, 2001, Ibrahim Turkmen answered a knock on the door of his home in West Babylon, New York, to find two FBI agents. A solemn man with a strong jaw and deeply etched features, Turkmen was thirty-five years old at the time. Though his English was limited, he tried to tell the officers that he had arrived in the United States from Konya, a city in southwestern Turkey, more than a year earlier to visit a friend. In Konya, Turkmen had worked as an imam, earning a modest salary to support his wife and four daughters. Realizing that he could earn more in a few years in the United States than he could in Turkey, he decided to stay in America. He found jobs at gas stations and in construction, and began sending money home.

The agents accused Turkmen of working with Osama bin Laden. They demanded his identification, and Turkmen handed over his passport with dread. In the weeks after the World Trade Center attacks, he had heard about government agents showing up at the homes and workplaces of other immigrants — and he knew that his tourist visa had expired months earlier.

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covers national affairs and the Department of Justice for Reuters.

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