With the help of his community, Pennsylvania promoter Sam Younes has managed to evade deportation to Syria over a 12-year-old drug conviction.
Younes, CEO of Allentown-based U-Walk Entertainment, was arrested in March and faced deportation after immigration officials learned he had a felony drug conviction from 1994. He returned to his home May 22nd after spending two months in prison, where he was held without bail, according to The Morning Call newspaper.
Younes was reportedly convicted of drug possession with intent to deliver – a felony. No jail time was served and he was given probation, but his conviction was considered an “aggravated felony,” which under immigration law allows for the deportation of noncitizens, the paper said.
Twelve years passed before his conviction caught the attention of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials. The conviction reportedly occurred before a change in immigration law in 1996, and he was eligible to have a hearing where a judge could consider the details of his case and character and reputation.
Born in Lebanon to Syrian parents, Younes was 4 years old when his family brought him to the United States.
U.S. Immigration Judge Matthew D’Angelo was impressed with the widespread community support for Younes and granted his petition for relief.
“The community support tipped the scales in his favor,” Younes’ attorney, Matthew Archambeault, told The Morning Call.
The attorney argued that deporting Younes to Syria could potentially cause him danger.
“He’s a long-term permanent resident and barely speaks Arabic,” Archambeault reportedly said. “The work he did with the music community in Lehigh Valley was positive, and people were standing behind him.”
Archambeault said Younes retains his permanent resident status and is free to live and work in the U.S., the paper said.
Attempts to reach Younes for comment were not successful at press time. It’s also not certain whether U-Walk Entertainment is still in operation.