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Palestinian Family in Texas Jail

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    Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone Start the New Year off Right, Please Help Save a Family Amin Odeh The Arab American Community
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2007
      "Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone"

      Start the New Year off Right, Please Help Save a Family
      Amin Odeh
      The Arab American Community Coalition

      The Arab American Community Coalition (theaacc.org) has just learned
      of an entire Palestinian family - the Ibrahims - being held in jail in
      Texas while waiting an unjustified deportation. The Immigration and
      Customs Enforcemen (ICE) grabbed the family of five in a Gestapo-like
      raid on November 3, 2006.

      The Ibrahims came to the United States legally and applied for asylum.
      They have been honest and forthright with immigration from the
      beginning. They were denied asylum and have filed to reopen their
      asylum case. In the meantime, the family is to be deported and is
      being held in jail! As an American citizen, the 2-year-old daughter
      was ripped from her mother's arms and is in a foster home.

      The plot thickens:

      To make matters worse, as Palestinian refugees from the Occupied
      Palestinian Territories they have no travel documents. The US
      government has attempted to obtain Jordanian passports for the family
      but the applications were denied. The family will have to languish
      another month in jail while ICE contacts the Israeli embassy. Even
      though Israel has no jurisdiction to issue travel documents to
      Palestinians to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ICE insists on
      contacting Israel . In the past, Israel has issued illegal documents
      with ICE flying deportees into Tel Aviv and the deportees marched
      across the border to the West Bank in Palestine . It is extremely
      dangerous for Palestinians to enter Palestine with Israeli travel
      documents. The family would be marked with suspicion.

      The family in jail:

      The pregnant mother, Hanan Ahmad, is in one cell with her 5-year-old
      daughter, Fatem. The 7- and 12-year-old sisters - Maryam and Rodaina -
      share another cell. The 15-year-old boy, Hamzeh, is in yet another
      cell at T. Don Hutto jail. The father and husband, Salaheddin Ibrahim,
      is being held in another jail in Haskell , Texas . Born in the US, the
      youngest daughter, only 2-years-old, is living with strangers in a
      foster home.

      The little 5-year-old girl, Faten, is constantly getting in trouble
      with the guards for not standing still during population counts, which
      are taken four times daily. Maryam, the 7-year-old cries for her
      mother at night. Maryam, Rodaina and Hamzeh have missed nearly two
      months of school. The children miss their father, their baby sister,
      other family members and friends. The pregnant mother feels sick,
      tired and overwhelmed. The family is separated and scared not knowing
      what the future holds.

      Not only is this a waste of our tax dollars ($95 per person per day),
      it is inhumane and unjust!

      What can you do?

      Please contact ICE Field Office Director, Marc Jeffery Moore, @
      210-967-7175 and ask him to release the family on house arrest. You
      can also contact U.S. Department of Homeland Security @ Operator
      Number: 202-282-8000 or Comment Line: 202-282-8495

      If you live in Texas, please contact your Senators and State
      Representative and ask him or her to intercede in this tragic story.
      Click on the link below to find out who represents you in the Congress.


      Donate money.

      Legal fees to save the Ibrahim family will be costly. Please send
      checks payable to:

      "Arab American Community Coalition" Legal Defense - Ibrahim Family to:

      P.O. Box 31642 , Seattle , WA 98103 .

      All donations are tax-deductible with 100% of your donation going to
      the Ibrahim Family. Please don't forget to check if your organization
      has a matching program.

      For more information please contact info @ theaacc.org .


      Uncle and a 3-Year-Old Will Lead Protests
      Palestinian Immigrant Jailings in Texas

      The brother of a jailed Palestinian man whose children and pregnant
      wife are being held in a Texas jail says he will stage a small protest
      with his 3-year-old niece Friday morning outside the San Antonio
      offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at 8940 Fourwinds Dr.

      "I am an American citizen, and I know what America is made of," said
      Ahmad Ibrahim, speaking by telephone Wednesday afternoon. "America is
      made of good people."

      Ibrahim will take the family's case to the streets, asking for release
      of his niece's three sisters, teenage brother, and pregnant
      mother--all of whom have been held in jail since their midnight
      arrests on Nov. 3.

      Marc Jeffrey Moore, San Antonio field office director of the Detention
      and Removal Office for ICE, referred all questions from the Texas
      Civil Rights Review to the ICE public affairs office, which has not
      yet returned our call.

      Ibrahim said he had just heard from Moore's office Wednesday afternoon
      that applications to renew the family's passports from Jordan had been
      denied, and they would have to wait another month in jail while ICE
      contacted the Israeli embassy.

      Ibrahim was skeptical that Israel would be forthcoming with the needed
      travel approvals, and anyway, he said, it would be dangerous for his
      brother's family to present Israeli travel papers as their documents
      for re-entry to Palestine.

      "Either deport them, or fix their status," said Ibrahim. Either way,
      he says, they should not be in jail.

      "We are not poor. We have family, a home, and money." Ibrahim said
      that he and his family in Palestine would do whatever is needed to
      take care of the jailed family as soon as they are released.

      "We will meet them at the airport terminal with tickets, if that's
      what it takes," he said.

      Ibrahim says he was with his brother some 18 months ago when an
      immigration lawyer called to apologize for missing a filing deadline
      regarding the family's asylum. And he says a ruling on the case is
      still pending.

      The brother, Salaheddin Ibrahim, was separated from his family, and is
      being held at another jail.

      Ahmad Ibrahim says his 5-year-old niece shares her cell with her
      pregnant mother, Hanan Ahmad, while the 7- and 12-year-old girls share
      a cell with each other. The 15-year-old boy is in a third cell. All of
      them are incarcerated at the T. Don Hutto jail in Taylor, Texas.

      Ibrahim says the 5-year-old gets into trouble with guards during
      population counts that are taken four times daily. She is supposed to
      sit still for the counts, but she doesn't.

      "She is a very active child," explains Ibrahim. He says reprimands
      from the guards sometimes bring the little girl to tears.

      One chilly morning, says Ibrahim, the girl wrapped a blanket around
      her as she walked out of her cell, but a guard told her that the
      blanket didn't belong to her.

      "It's my blanket!" answered the little girl.

      The 7-year-old has also been upset to the point of tears, because she
      cannot sleep in the same cell with her mother. At 10:00 p.m. the
      7-year-old is ordered to the cell she shares with her 12-year-old sister.

      Showers for the women are provided every morning at 5:30, but at least
      on one occasion, says Ibrahim, the pregnant mother was feeling sick
      and tired, so she asked not to go. A guard reportedly threatened the
      mother with disciplinary action that would include separating her from
      the 5-year-old, so the mother took the shower as ordered.

      With four girls and one boy already in the family, Ibrahim said that
      his brother paid a fertility expert $7,000 to ensure that a boy would
      be born this time, so they are "99 percent" sure that the next child
      will be a boy.

      Meanwhile, Ibrahim holds a letter of suspension for the 15-year-old
      boy, who has missed too many days of school. Except for the
      3-year-old, all the other children were attending schools before they
      were jailed by ICE.

      "He's holding the whole thing together," says Ibrahim of the
      15-year-old. "He calls me every day."

      Ibrahim says he is composing a letter to First Lady Laura Bush.

      "This is a small immigration violation, and an attorney could fix this
      easily," he says. "They are not a threat to society."

      Plus, he says, it would be cheaper for the government if the family
      were allowed to live outside the jail. A report in the Sunday Sun of
      Williamson County said ICE is paying $95 per day per inmate for
      imprisonment services provided by Corrections Corporation of America
      at the Hutto jail--a cost of $14,000 per month for the five family
      members held there.

      "I have never myself heard of anywhere in the world where this kind of
      thing happens," said Ibrahim. "Jailing a mother with her children is
      very demeaning.

      Ibrahim's protest will be the fourth in two weeks related to the Hutto
      jail. On December 14, South Texas businessman Jay Johnson-Castro began
      a 35-mile walk to the jail from the Texas Capitol. On December 16,
      Johnson-Castro joined a vigil at the jail sponsored by Texans United
      for Families. On Christmas Eve, Flamenco artists Teye and Belen
      performed for a dedicated group of protesters in inclement weather.

      All three actions have received some coverage from corporate media,
      but the story of Palestinian families has yet to be mentioned in that
      coverage. Stories and editorials usually assume that the jail is
      filled with detainees who entered the country "illegally." At least
      two Palestinian families being held at Hutto jail entered the USA
      legally with visas, say their attorney, but they have run into legal
      difficulties securing asylum. In both cases, the men have been
      separated into different jails from the women and children at Hutto.

      "Don't forget that being a Palestinian in this period of history is
      truly being the weakest of the weak," adds Ibrahim. "Since you don't
      even have a country, like 99.9 percent of the whole earth, to ask
      about you, or to defend you, or help you with your basic needs.

      "And people such as Marc Jeffery Moore--instead of going after the
      terrorists and the criminals--he is going after some children and
      mothers, not caring about the image of our great America."

      Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of
      Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy
      of Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush
      appears in Dime's Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn
      and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: gmosesx@....


      Video showing the family on local news:



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