I am reposting this with the permission of the author. It was originally posted here.
RIFQA BARY UPDATE: VERY TROUBLING DEVELOPMENTS FROM COURT IN COLUMBUS (MARCH2, 2010)Today at 6:04am
Dear supporters and friends of Rifqa Bary,
I have had several requests for an update regarding Rifqa’s hearing in court on Tuesday (March 2’nd, 2010). I have taken the last several hours to process and pray about the news, and after some conversations about this latest hearing, I unfortunately must tell you that there are some very bad developments from today’s court hearing in Columbus that I am shocked are not being reported. There are several reasons why I am convinced that Rifqa’s defense continues to be on an entirely wrong trajectory in this landmark case.
Before I get into the very troubling developments that occurred, the one positive development that occurred in Tuesday’s hearing is the fact that the court upheld Rifqa’s temporary dependency. Rifqa’s parent’s C.A.I.R. (Council on American Islamic Relations) advised attorney filed motions requesting to withdraw from the temporary dependency that they themselves agreed to several weeks ago. The Judge denied this request thereby upholding the temporary agreement for dependency for Rifqa. The negative aspect about all of this is the fact that it is still TEMPORARY. She has NOT been declared a permanent dependant of the state for the next 5 months like we all would have liked. Remember, Franklin County Children services has put together a case plan that calls for the reunification of Rifqa and her parents. While this is standard procedure regarding juvenile cases, this is obviously a horrendous proposition considering the very real and dangerous threat that Rifqa faces if this were to happen due to her conversion from Islam to Christianity.
While I am told that this call for reunification is simply standard procedure for juvenile cases and does not have much chance of being carried out, it does show that the true nature of this case is not understood, nor being taken seriously. Because the truth about the threats facing Rifqa are continuing to be hidden, this allows authorities in Columbus to continue to attack those that helped Rifqa flee her home on the night her life was endangered.
Last week, Rifqa’s attorneys filed a motion declaring that reunification was no longer possible and thereby was attempting to withdraw from following the horrendous Franklin County Children Services case plan recommendation of reunification with her parents. I was very happy that Rifqa’s attorneys finally saw the light, so to speak, but unfortunately it was too late. Just like Rifqa’s parents, Rifqa’s own attorneys have already agreed to this horrendous case plan! In addition to denying Rifqa’s parents motion to withdraw from the agreement to dependency, the motion by Rifqa’s attorneys to reject the case plan and its call for reunification with her parents was rejected by the judge today as well. Basically speaking, the judge in this case is mandating that the Franklin County Children Services case plan be followed, and that is why Rifqa and her parents are being pressured to undergo counseling. I am told, however, that because Rifqa will be 18 in August, it is unlikely that the case plan that eventually calls for her reunification will have time to be carried out in 5 months. So, why is there cause for concern?
RIFQA’S IMMIGRATION STATUS IS IN JEOPARDY!
The AP and the Columbus Dispatch is falsely reporting that Rifqa’s parent’s legal status is unknown while at the same time they are reporting that Rifqa herself is not in this country legally! Wow, this is some of the worst reporting I have ever observed in my life. If Rifqa is here illegally, then wouldn’t that mean her parents are also here illegally? It was Rifqa that came to the U.S. from Sri-Lanka on her own parent’s visa. She was a young child when her family immigrated here. Rifqa’s parent’s visas have since expired. This has been known for some time now, and now the danger that Rifqa faces from being an illegal immigrant is coming out. The media’s assessment that Rifqa’s parent’s legal status is unknown is blatantly misleading and false. (This should be eye opening to all those who get their information about this case from the media.)
Rifqa’s attorney’s entire legal strategy has been to secure dependency of the state for her so that she can remain in foster care until she is 18 and pursue permanent residency status as a minor. According to a law passed during the Bush administration, minors who are declared to be a dependant of the state are eligible for a very special dependency proceeding. The official name of this dependency proceeding is called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which will allow Rifqa legal permanent residency in the U.S. If Rifqa turns 18 without this, she can be deported to Sri-Lanka where her life would be in grave danger. (It is now also documented that Rifqa’s mother has admitted to having had plans to take her back to Sri-Lanka due to her conversion. It is widely understood that her parents will attempt to do this should reunification ever occur before she is 18.)
Obviously, C.A.I.R. does not want her here in this country talking about her conversion from Islam to faith in Jesus Christ, as well as shedding light on the threat that she faced due to numerous Islamic teachings in the Qur’an and the Hadith that past leaders at her family’s mosque in central Ohio openly held to. Because of this, the C.A.I.R. advised attorney representing Rifqa’s parents are opposed to Rifqa being allowed to pursue this special immigration proceeding keeping her here in the U.S.
This is where there is much cause for concern. Because the case plan has been agreed to by both parties, the judge is now saying (in agreement with the C.A.I.R. attorney) that the case plan (which calls for reunification) must be attempted before Rifqa’s attorney (Angela Lloyd) can even begin with this special immigration process! Make no mistake about it, this is not good news in any way, shape, or form, and this is what we found out from Tuesday’s hearing. I am outraged and shocked that this is not being reported! The fact that Rifqa’s attorney is not yet able to begin pursuing her immigration status fits right in with the ‘stalling’ tactic being used by C.A.I.R.
Rifqa’s attorneys have had 2 objectives thus far. Their first objective has been to attempt to secure permanent dependency for Rifqa thereby keeping her safe in foster care until she is 18, and the second has been to secure permanent residency status for Rifqa by employing SIJS. They have failed to achieve the first objective because they agreed to a case plan that calls for reunification and have made deals to avoid a trial. This makes the dependency only temporary while the case plan is put into action. The fact that there has been no trial for dependency has only made matters worse by keeping the threat that she faced a secret.
The second objective that her legal team was supposed to pursue regarding permanent residency status, (SIJS), is now on hold and is in jeopardy because of the agreement to follow this horrendous case plan. SIJS has been the entire crux of their legal strategy and we found out from Tuesday’s hearing that the Judge is simply not allowing Rifqa’s attorneys to move forward on this because they want to give the ‘case plan’ time to work. The closer to Rifqa’s birthday that we get without her immigration status being settled, the more danger she faces. Rifqa’s legal team has decided to not pursue Religious Asylum for Rifqa as well because they have put all their eggs, so to speak, in the (SIJS) basket. Many others have asked why (SIJS) and Asylum cannot be pursued concurrently, however, in case there is a problem with one of these approaches as there now appears to be. This situation has been going on since August and it is now March. Rifqa is no closer to having her immigration status resolved now than she was 7 months ago. The two objectives that Rifqa’s attorneys have said they could easily get have yet to be achieved at all! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am at a loss to see how this is good news.
So why am I saying this, and what is my objective? Let me tell you clearly. Coming to this conclusion to stand opposed to Rifqa’s legal strategy has not been easy for me at all. It has come with a cost, let me assure you. Rifqa has been told to stay away from my advice because of the stand that I have taken. Obviously, this has caused much stress, heartache, and hardship as a result. I am not an ‘angry blogger’ as it has been suggested. I am one who loves Rifqa dearly and I feel an unction by God to continue to tell the truth as I see it unfolding. None of this has been easy for me or our family, but I must be obedient to God and not to man. It is not faith to deny reality and become ignorant of the enemy’s schemes. I am confident and I am not afraid for Rifqa. I believe that in the end, Rifqa will be ok. She will be victorious because the truth is proclaimed, however, and not because it is silenced with a premature and false declaration of peace and victory. It is simply not possible for me to sit by while I see these things unfolding. With that said, I would like urge you to pray for the following:
1. Pray that eyes would be opened to the enemy’s strategy. There is a pervading blindness, so to speak, that is preventing us from seeing and understanding what is actually happening in this case. Please pray that Rifqa herself would be given wisdom about all of these things, and that she would have access to a wider variety of counsel than she currently has. Proverbs 24:6 says: “For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
2. Pray for Rifqa’s testimony of faith in Jesus and the threat that she faced from Islam to come out and be made public. There is no doubt in my mind that this is why the Lord has caused this case to be elevated to the national stage. As you can see, there is much opposition to this from many different angles.
Thank you for considering this plea,
Prayers for this sweet girl are continuing – and that God will protect her.