Palestinian activist pleads guilty to US immigration crime

Rasmea Odeh, stands outside federal court Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Detroit. Odeh, a Chicago Palestinian activist who didn't disclose her time in an Israeli prison when she got U.S. citizenship, agreed to plead guilty to failing to tell U.S. immigration officials in 2004 that she was convicted and imprisoned in Israel for bombings in the late 1960s. (AP Photo/Ed White)

DETROIT (AP) — A Chicago Palestinian activist with a decades-old record of bombings in Israel pleaded guilty Tuesday to concealing those convictions when she applied for U.S. citizenship.

Rasmea Odeh, 69, will be deported to Jordan or another country in the months ahead. Supporters traveled to Detroit from Chicago to pack the courtroom, and many were in tears later on the courthouse steps.

Odeh was convicted at trial in 2014 and sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the verdict was overturned. A second trial was planned in Detroit, the city where she went through the citizenship process in 2004, before she decided to accept a plea deal.

But even with the plea agreement, Odeh found it impossible to say the word “guilty” when repeatedly asked by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain. He gave up and accepted her reply that she had admitted her crime in the court document.

“I signed this,” Odeh said.

She won’t spend any time in prison and will wait for U.S. immigration officials to tell her when she must leave the country. The deportation won’t happen until after she appears in court in August.

“The United States will never be a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts,” said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in Detroit.