NEW YORK: When George Kidan was a student at the University of Toledo, he helped buy $30 worth of marijuana for a friend — who, it turned out, was working with an undercover narcotics officer. Police arrested Kidan at his on-campus job. He was convicted in 1987 of “trafficking in illicit drugs,” got two years’ probation, and paid $1,070 in fines and restitution.
“I didn’t think much of it,” he said of his conviction. “I figured since I paid my fine and did my probation, I’m good.”
But Kidan is not a U.S. citizen, having arrived in 1981 on a student visa from Kuwait. That meant that years after he completed his probation and moved on, his marijuana conviction could come back to haunt him. And in 1999, it did. He was arrested by Immigration Enforcement Officers from his home in Western New York, locked in detention for months, barred from traveling, and remains in legal limbo — even after the governor of Ohio granted him a full pardon in 2006 for his initial crime.