Undocumented Pakistani Couple Leaves Their New Britain Restaurant In The Community's Hands

Apr 1, 2018

Supporters of an undocumented Pakistani couple fighting a deportation order came together in New Britain, Friday. They hoped to raise awareness on what the couple is going through by meeting up at the pizza restaurant the couple owns.

Malik Naveed Bin Rehman and his wife Zahida Altaf were supposed to leave the United States on March 19. Instead, they sought sanctuary in a church in Old Lyme.

Luis Torres from New Britain has known the family since shortly after they came to the city in 2000.

“When my parents died, he was there for me,” Torres said. “He cried with me. When his father died a month later, I was there for him and I cried with him, so we’re like brothers.”

Bin Rehman and his wife own a pizzeria called Pizza Corner. Torres is not a restauranter—he owns a landscaping company. But with the help of his landscaping employees, he’s also running Bin Rehman’s business.

“We pulled them all here to volunteer and to work for him and keep the business up and going because he’s worked so hard—to lose it all now, it doesn’t make any sense,” Torres said.

Roshanay Tahir, the couple’s niece, is helping her parents take care of Bin Rehman’s five year-old daughter.

“They’re hard-working, selfless people,” Tahir said. “They’re trying to stay for their daughter. My uncle said if he loses his business, that’s not his biggest concern. He just wants his daughter to get a good education and [have] a good health care system.”

While friends of the Bin Rehman family are stepping up to run the pizzeria, Roshanay Tahir and her parents are looking after the Bin Rehman's five year-old daughter.
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Sen. Richard Blumenthal showed up and said he bought five pizzas in support of Bin Rehman’s.

“Buying pizza here clearly is a symbolic act, but I hope everybody will join me in supporting this business because my hope is that ICE will reverse their cruel, inhumane policy of draconian arrests and deportation,” Blumenthal said.

The federal Department of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued the following statement to Connecticut Public Radio, Friday:

“Malik Naveed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf, both of Pakistan, entered the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas in 2000, but did not depart the country in accordance with the terms of their visas,” said ICE spokesman John Mohan. “Mr. Naveed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf did not comply with their required departure March 19, but have sought accommodation at a church.”