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Fatiha Elgharib has lived in the US for 21 years and is the mother of four children, including two US citizens. She and her family are longtime residents of Englewood, a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Her youngest child, Sami was born with Down Syndrome and other severe medical conditions. Fatiha is her son’s primary caretaker. Every day when he comes home from school, he checks his mom’s chair to see if she’s there. Tearing Fatiha away from Sami, her three other children, and her husband would be a nightmare for this American family.
Fatiha entered the US legally in 1996 from Morocco with her husband and two eldest children. She has never committed any crimes and is a threat to no one.
After 9/11, the federal government advertised a special registration of Muslims, based entirely on religion. Fatiha’s husband decided to go in — but officers handcuffed him. Fatiha tried to clarify and explain the family’s story, but they got angry and took away her passport. They told her she would receive a summoning notice within 30 days in the mail. That notice never came.
Six years later, in 2007, agents came to Fatiha’s house to arrest her for not appearing at a court hearing she didn’t know she was supposed to be at. They detained her for five months before letting her go.
The Obama Administration saw fit to allow Fatiha to stay in the US considering the needs of her children and her positive record in the United States. Fatiha was free to live her life as long as she “checked in” with ICE once a year. The Trump Administration, however, has been deporting mothers and fathers like her in a series of “silent raids” that don’t take into consideration the costs of ripping someone like Fatiha away from her family and community.
When Fatiha attended her annual meeting with ICE this year, she was told that she would be deported back to Morocco. Her last day in the US is scheduled to be November 27, 2017, right after Thanksgiving.
Fatiha’s 15-year-old son, Sami, is a U.S. citizen. He has Down Syndrome and other severe conditions, including congenital heart malformation. Sami is nonverbal, has had multiple surgeries, and requires round-the-clock care. Fatiha is his primary caregiver. If she were deported, they would be separated. She would not be able to take him back with her to Morocco, as medical facilities there wouldn’t be able to provide the care he needs.
ICE officials have the discretion to stop Fatiha’s deportation because of the grave harm it would do to her American children. Fatiha only appeared on ICE’s radar because the family tried to do what the government asked. ICE has already allowed her to stay in the US for ten years. Fatiha should receive another deportation exception and be allowed to remain with her family in Ohio.