Local News

Roxboro Doctor Caught Up In Non-Citizen Registration Confusion

Posted May 23, 2003

— The entire country is on high alert, faced with an increased threat of a terrorist attack. It's one of dozens of changes since Sept. 11.

Another change requires non-citizens to fill out additional registration before traveling abroad. A Roxboro doctor got caught up in the confusion.

Some patients at a Roxboro clinic have put off getting medical care. Their doctor, Shahid Mahmood, left to visit his sick father in Pakistan.

"We're waiting it out for him to come back," said patient Debbie King.

Debbie and her husband, John, could be waiting a while.

When Dr. Mahmood and his family came back last week, immigration officials said he didn't properly follow a new immigration policy. Clinic manager Tracy Walls tried to talk immigration officials into detaining him until the confusion could be cleared up.

"I was told that he did not have the right to an attorney," Walls said. "He did not have the right to an appeal. He did not have any rights. They were going to put him, his wife and 2-year-old daughter back on a plane within three hours and send him back to Pakistan."

Walls is working through Senators' and Congressional offices to straighten things out.

"We have encountered problems in that one part of the Government doesn't know what the other part of the Government is doing," she said.

Roxboro is in a federally recognized underserved area, meaning there's just not enough doctors. That's why Dr. Mahmood made Roxboro his home.

But the same Government that asked him to practice here is now keeping him away.

Dr. Mahmood's working visa is cancelled. It could take months to get a new one.

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