Las Vegas judge halts Sheikhan deportation

Sean Sheikhan
Shawn Sheikhan may not face deportation now.

A Las Vegas judge has put a halt, at least temporarily, to the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's efforts to deport poker player Shawn Sheikhan.

According to a report in Thursday's Las Vegas Review-Journal, Immigration Court judge Harry Gastley decided that the DHS had not provided enough information to continue with its case for deportation against Sheikhan.

Sheikhan, born in Iran, is a legal resident of the United States with a wife and child who are U.S. citizens. Sheikhan has been in the U.S. since the age of nine and currently owns several Las Vegas businesses as well as pursuing a poker career.

After Sheikhan started processing for full American citizenship, the original deportation case began as a result of a 1995 misdemeanor conviction in California. That conviction, which was discovered by the DHS after Sheikhan's application for citizenship was received, stemmed from alleged sexual contact with a minor. He was arrested on Aug. 30 and spent a week in jail before posting bond.

The DHS cited its "Operation Predator" initiative against child sexual exploitation as the pretext for putting Sheikhan through the harrowing experience of facing deportation. Details of the conviction are not known, although Sheikhan did serve nine months in prison and five years' probation for it. Time served was an influential consideration in Judge Gastley's decision to end the deportation process for Sheikhan.

Sheikhan was convicted in Contra Costa county in California. Contra Costa court officials were unable to produce documented evidence of the conviction for Gastley's perusal, according to the Review-Journal article, because they do not keep records of misdemeanor cases older than 10 years.

Without any tangible records from the convicting court, Gastley had to base his judgment on information provided by the DHS. This information, in Gastley's view, left him unable to tell exactly what Sheikhan had been convicted of and how - whether by jury, bench trial or plea.

While the immigration judge may have issued a temporary stop to the actions of the Department of Homeland Security, Sheikhan still has to weather any appeals by the organization.

The DHS has until Dec. 17 to appeal the decision and, at this time, attorneys for the DHS have not indicated what action they will take.

Related Article: Sheikhan Faces Deportation from U.S.

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