VOLUME 28 NO. 7 | FEBRUARY 7 - 13, 2009


Palestinian couple fights deportation in Alabama

Last updated 2-5-09 at 1:34 p.m.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An immigrant couple with six children are trying to block the government’s attempt to deport them and their oldest son from Alabama; they argue that they are stateless Palestinians with nowhere else to go.

Mohammad Mohammad said he and his wife, Sana Alsayed, and their 18-year-old son, Imad Mohammad, were arrested Jan. 12 at their home in Hoover as the couple’s five younger children — all U.S. citizens — watched. They were detained on warrants for failure to depart the country after being denied asylum in July 2001.

The father, who works as a handyman, has since been released from custody to care for the younger children — ages 6, 7, 13, 15, and 17. But the mother and son, a former track captain at Spain Park High School, are being held in a Louisiana jail.

The Mohammad family has been in the United States since 1993.

Court documents show that the family entered the United States with travel documents from Jordan and Egypt, and that Imad was born in Saudi Arabia. But as Palestinians, none has a passport or official nationality, the family claimed.

The family’s attorney, Douglas Cooner, said in the documents that after the asylum denial, the government “could not locate any country that would take this family and they would have left the U.S. on their own if they had a country to go to or that would take them.”

Faculty at Imad’s former high school have written letters to their congressmen urging his release. He is currently a student at Jefferson State Community College.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that he is among the top, top students I’ve ever taught or expect to teach,” said English teacher Burgin Mathews. “I am always inspired by the idea of where he’s going to be in 10 years, so then to know how much in jeopardy that is, is so distressing.”

Mohammad apologized to his son for bringing him to the United States. “I said, ‘If I had known this would have happened to you, I would never have brought you here,’” the father said, his voice cracking. “My son came to this country at 2 years old. He doesn’t know what he did. He’s supposed to be in the college studying, not in the jail.” (end)

What do you think is the right thing to do in this circumstance? Should the family be allowed to stay in the United States? Visit our blog at www.nwasianweekly.com/blog and share your thoughts on this story in our brand new “sound off” section.


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