Ibrahim Parlak has been a staple of port country on Michigan’s coast for nearly 30 years, but he now faces another immigration hurdle in his decades-long struggle to stay in the United States.
“It’s all here,” Parlak said Monday after learning of a new hearing in his case. “My family is here. My things are here.
Parlak is a beloved restaurant owner who came to the United States after being accused of involvement in a 1987 border skirmish in his native Turkey where two soldiers were killed. He insisted he was innocent, and the government not only believed him, but granted him asylum.
Then, in 2004 – at the height of the War on Terror – immigration authorities accused him of being a terrorist and threw him in prison.
Parlak finally won his case in 2018 when an immigration judge acknowledged he had been tortured and would likely be tortured again if returned to his home country. It looked like his long battle to stay in the United States was finally over. But now, due to a bizarre technicality – a problem with a transcript – Parlak’s case has been sent back for a new hearing.
“There’s only one branch of government that’s got me hooked and they just don’t want to let go,” Parlak said on Monday.
“The government makes mistakes,” said former NBC 5 political editor Carol Marin. As a columnist for the Sun-Times, she has told Parlak’s story for decades.
“Ibrahim, for all these years, is a bit like the poster for the chamber of commerce,” Marin said.
“He was tortured in Turkey and now he is being tortured here,” she added.
It is likely that this new chapter will take years to unfold. But Parlak has now lived in the United States longer than he lived in his native country and says he still believes in his American dream.
“I hope one day I will get my share of it,” he said.