By Mark Cavitt
(from left) Britanny Hamama, Congressman Sander Levin, Naharian Hamama and Chris Hamama. All three will be Levin’s guest at Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address. (photo provided) (from left) Britanny Hamama, Congressman Sander Levin, Naharian Hamama and Chris Hamama. All three will be Levin’s guest at Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address. (photo provided)
While Naharian Hamama’s husband, Sam, sits in prison, she and two of her children, Britanny, 20, and Chris, 17, will be in Washington D.C. at President Trump’s first State of the Union Address Tuesday night.
Hamama and her children will serve as Congressman Sander Levin’s guests while Sam Hamama, and 113 other Iraqi Christians from Michigan who had final orders of removal,sit in prison after being detained last June by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to Reuters, immigration enforcement officers have detained approximately 300 Iraqi nationals with final deportation orders since June 2017. There are approximately 1,400 Iraqis in the United States with final deportation orders.
“My husband is very happy that we are here,” said Hamama. “I’m honored to be here to represent those in Michigan that have been detained for so long, nearly eight months. It’s been hard and tough on my family. I’m hoping that the president will address this issue and find it in his heart to change some of these laws to keep these people here in this country.”
Sam Hamama, whose been subject to deportation since 1994, is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June 2017, challenging the federal government’s efforts to deport them to Iraq.
According to The Washington Post, ICE officials said only Iraqis with prior criminal convictions were targeted. Hamama was arrested in 1988 for flashing an unloaded gun at another driver and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Hamama said her husband made a mistake but otherwise has been an outstanding citizen, including being a great father and husband.
“He knows he made a mistake 30 years ago and shouldn’t have to be punished again,’ said Hamama. “He’s a great role model for his children. He feels like he deserves a second chance.”
Levin said he’s honored to have Naharian Hamama and two of her children join him for the State of the Union Address. He added that this family challenges Americans, and the U.S. government, to act with compassion and of the values enshrined on the Statue of Liberty.
“This family represents a challenge to this country of ours,” said Levin. “This man made a mistake but has been working hard to raise his family with his wife. He is no threat to anybody. This is not an issue of national security. It’s just not true.”
Levin said if Hamama was sent back to Iraq, his life would be in danger.
“He has no family there,” said Levin. “His health and life would be jeopardized. This is a typical situation for many of these families. This family is part of what makes this country great.”
On Jan. 2, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered the government to either release the Iraqi immigrants or grant them bond hearings. Goldsmith said any of the Iraqis held for six months or longer must be released or granted a bond hearing before an immigration judge within 30 days.
ACLU INFO ABOUT HAMAMA FAMILY: https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/deportation-and-due-process/one-familys-fight-against-trumps-unlawful?redirect=feature/one-familys-fight-against-trumps-unlawful-deportation-machine
ICE DETAINS HUNDREDS: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/dozens-of-iraqi-nationals-swept-up-in-immigration-raids-in-michigan-tennessee/2017/06/12/58e0524a-4f97-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?utm_term=.e6b0dcc6f65a
ACLU SUES: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/06/15/aclu-sues-to-stop-deportation-arrested-iraqi-nationals.html
US JUDGE ORDERS RELEASE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling/u-s-judge-orders-government-to-release-iraqis-or-grant-bond-hearings-idUSKBN1ES01D