Palestinian couple fights deportation
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
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)
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