Local Chaldean family relieved at Obama’s action on immigration

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By John Carroll
One local Chaldean family is breathing a giant sigh of relief after hearing President Obama’s speech Thursday. San Diego 6 introduced you to Nesreen Daud and her family last week. Nesreen was facing deportation to Iraq … until now.

Daud and her family walked into the office of local Chaldean leader Mark Arabo last week pleading for help. Daud had received a final judgement from a federal judge ordering her to be deported three days before Christmas. On Thursday night, the family gathered in Arabo’s office to watch Obama’s speech.

“Our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations,” Obama said.

Nesreen Daud has been in the United States with her family since 2002, and for that entire time, she and her husband, Faris, have been trying to gain legal status. But because of miscomunication with immigration officials about the family’s route to America from Iraq, Nesreen was ordered deported.

Thursday night she and her family heard the words they were waiting to hear.

“If you’ve been in America for more than five years, if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents, if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation,” said the president.

Though that part of Obama’s speech wasn’t exactly a surprise, it was still overwhelming for Nesreen Daud. She wept when the president said that. It also led to a high-five between Arabo and her 11-year-old son Luies, an American citizen, and a handshake with Luies’ dad Faris.

“What are your feelings after hearing the president?” asked San Diego 6 reporter John Carroll.

“Happy,” Nesreen said. And from her son, immense relief that his mother will be able to stay, at least for now.

“I feel happy and… that my Mom will stay for another three years,” said Luies.

Arabo just returned from a visit to the White House. While he was there, he gave hand-written letters from the Daud family to the president.

“We’re thankful to God that everything… the stars aligned, we made our trip, spoke to the president yesterday and today it’s official,” said Arabo. “He saved her life.”

Of course, gaining eventual citizenship is not a sure thing for Nesreen Daud or any of the other people covered by the president’s action. But that action has bought time for Daud, and she said she’s confident she’ll now be able to start anew on a path that will eventually lead to her becoming a citizen of the United States.

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