Fatiha Elgharib – Whose Son Has Down Syndrome and Severe Medical Problems – Latest Caregiver to Face Banishment from American Son Who Needs Her
A recording of today’s call is available here.
Ohio and Michigan – For the past 21 years, Fatiha Elgharib has built a life for herself and her family in Ohio, raising four children – including a DACA-recipient and a 15-year old U.S. citizen with Down Syndrome. Now, on November 27, just four days after Thanksgiving, the Trump Administration is insisting on deporting Fatiha to Morocco and splitting apart this Englewood family.
Decisions coming out of the Detroit ICE Field Office – which has jurisdiction over Michigan and Detroit – have grown alarmingly cruel as Director Rebecca Adducci implements the Trump Administration’s mass deportation policy. While Adducci had personally signed off on “stays of deportation” in these cases in years past – due to their compelling equities – she is now zealously implementing a “no tolerance” policy with severe consequences for American citizens like Fatiha’s son Sami, Lourdes Salazar Bautista and Jesus Lara’s children, andPedro Hernandez’s adult son, Juan, who suffers from cerebral palsy. A recording of today’s call is available here.
Sara Hamdi, one of Fatiha’s daughters, who was joined by Fatiha Elgharib on the call, said:
We have been in the United States for 21 years trying to live the American dream. We came here legally with the intention to maintain lawful status. After September 11th, my father complied with the special registration program. When my mom went to his defense, she became a deportation target. We expected a letter to come in the mail summoning her to court, but nothing came. Then, in 2007, there was a knock on the door. Immigration detained her for five months. Finally, they released her and subjected her to regular check ins. Now, this administration wants to break up our family and deport her to Morocco. Director Adducci, this is about having a heart. What would you do, if someone was trying to take you from your family?
Denise Hamdi, Sara’s aunt and Fatiha’s sister-in-law, said:
In 2010, they were going to deport Fatiha. We reported to Columbus, suitcase in hand. The Detroit office called the Columbus office and instructed them to give her a stay of deportation, so she could take care of Sami. We are asking Detroit to do the same thing now. Sami was only five years old when Fatiha was detained in 2007 for five months. At the time of her detention, he was potty trained and attempting to be verbal. He regressed greatly during her detention. Even though he is 15 now, he still suffers from Down Syndrome, cognitive delays, and medical issues. The administration claims to be targeting criminals, but Fatiha’s case is far more usual. The worst thing she has done is stay here beyond her visa. These ‘criminals’ being focused on are, in fact, parents. Those being targeted are those who are cooperating because they are the easiest to find. They can’t go into hiding, because they are family members, parents, and employees.
Judy Mark, President and CEO, Disability Voices United and faculty member, UCLA Disability Studies Department, said:
Fatiha’s case is by no means an isolated event – the deportation of parents, of caregivers, is a national and disturbing trend. The discretion that previous administrations used to provide humanitarian relief to parents of United States citizens with disabilities is gone. So now, we have a trend of vulnerable children being left parentless. Parents are taking care of these children as part of being a mom or a dad. They are the best caregivers, because they care the most. They are there all the time. If we continue this trend of deporting parents, it will not only hurt families, it will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money. Since Sami is a United States citizen, he has a right to home care services – provided through state and federal money. That expense will dramatically increase if his mom is deported.
Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said:
This case is emblematic of a cruel and senseless change in overall policy that we’ve seen in the last year. A lot of people know about the President’s Muslim ban, and about the young Dreamers who have been fighting for their lives for the past several months. And they may have heard the news just yesterday that nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants are now likely to face deportation after they’ve been here for years. But I think not as many people know about the creation of what amounts to a mass deportation machine, through policy changes that eliminate priorities and cut down on the use of prosecutorial discretion – or what most people call “common sense” – when it comes to immigration enforcement. When no one is a priority, everyone is a target – and unless Director Adducci and her colleagues in this administration change course, we’re either going to see a lot more immigrants go into hiding or we’re going to see a lot more cases like this.
Lynn Tramonte, Director, America’s Voice Ohio, said:
Our government, under the direction of Trump and Detroit Field Office Director Rebecca Adducci, is making completely irresponsible decisions that harm American citizens, and using taxpayer dollars to do so. Deporting Fatiha away from her children and family after two decades in the United States helps no one. It is particularly cruel to think of how Sami will understand and deal with the news. As an American I am outraged and ashamed at these now-daily examples of government cruelty toward American families. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the stroke of a pen, Director Adducci could reverse Fatiha’s nightmare and prevent Sami from going through an unspeakable tragedy.
For more information:
- Summary of Fatiha’s deportation case
- Blog on prosecutorial discretion and Fatiha’s case from Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
- Blog from Sara Hamdi, Fatiha’s daughter: “Is my story being erased?”
- Op-ed from Judy Mark on the deportation of caregiver Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez
Fatiha’s husband came to the United States legally in 1995 from Morocco. After a year, she and her two children came to the United States to join him. Their third daughter was born in the U.S. and is an American citizen, as is their fourth child, Sami, who was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in his heart. Read more about Fatiha and her family’s story here.