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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Agency late on records to Thai chef

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

The district director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service yesterday admitted the agency was late to provide Thai chef Chai Chaowasaree with documents he requested for his June 14 deportation hearing and said the agency will remedy the situation "in a few working days."

Chai's complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court said the INS improperly withheld records and other materials after his lawyer requested the documents March 29. The documents, the complaint said, could benefit Chai at his deportation hearing.

Donald Radcliffe, INS District Director, said the agency will comply with the request filed by Chai's attorney who wanted copies of his file, citing the Freedom of Information Act.

"We were late in responding to the request," Radcliffe said. "I directed that unit to comply to the Freedom of Information request as fast as possible. It should have been done earlier."

Chai, 38, is awaiting a final decision on his deportation case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court will hear the case June 14.

Chai has put both his restaurants — Chai's Island Bistro and Singha Thai Cuisine — on the market.

The chef was in custody under jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service from Feb. 13 to March 23 at the O'ahu Community Correctional Center.

He has been fighting deportation since 1991, when the INS determined that his 1985 marriage to a Big Island woman was fraudulent, and moved to deport him.