Life of US Citizen Son With Down Syndrome Hinges On Outcome
Fatiha Elgharib: “I could never take Sami back [to Morocco]. With his multiple health problems he could die. He would have no rights. I’d have to hide him away.”
Englewood, OH – The Dayton Daily News is reporting that the deportation of local mom Fatiha Elgharib, scheduled for today, has been postponed for thirty days so that the U.S. government can review her request to remain and care for her family.
Fatiha’s case (summary here) has garnered significant media attention and highlighted how deportation decisions have changed dramatically under the new Administration. In years past, Fatiha regularly received deportation reprieves from the government, in order to continue caring for her American children, including her fifteen year-old son Sami, who has Down Syndrome and severe medical problems. This year, however, Fatiha’s stay of deportation was denied, and she was told to return to Morocco after Thanksgiving.
A few days before her scheduled departure, Fatiha received word that her case would receive a second look.
Parents 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.
Although I’ve heard about recent controversial deportation stories, Fatiha’s really hit home for me. She has a son with Down syndrome, and lives in the same Ohio city as I do. When I learned about her fight to stay in America, I knew I had to meet her and her son. I visited their home the day before Thanksgiving. Fatiha was visibly shaken and a had permanent expression of worry on her face.
Fatiha, her husband and two daughter’s came to America on a work visa in 1996, and have been trying to gain legal residence ever since. You can learn more about the legal battle and how things went downhill after the terror attacks of 9/11 here. “There’s terrible poverty in Morocco; no chance to find a job. I could never take Sami back there. With his multiple health problems he could die. He would have no rights. I’d have to hide him away,” Fatiha describes. If she is forced to leave on Monday, Sami (who is an American citizen) will be left without his primary care giver.
Hansen has written about the stigmatization of individuals with Down Syndrome in other African countries. Here she quotes Edwige Musabe, another mother of a young man with Down Syndrome: “Mental disability is invisible in Rwanda. The government doesn’t talk about these people. They’re not included. The parents don’t want to talk about it, because of the shame. They believe they’re to blame. They’re hidden in plain sight.”
Describing the situation in Morocco in a TEDx talk, Yasmine Berraoui, a young woman with Down Syndrome, said: “This question, ‘what am I doing here?’ has been my biggest problem in life,” and described how some were using her very existence to argue for legalizing abortion. No matter where you stand on the issue of choice, anyone can see that being told that you should never have been born is deeply unsettling. “From a very young age, I had no friends,” Berraoui said.
Said Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio:
It’s right that the government is taking its time to review Fatiha’s deportation case. Looking at the facts, they should clearly grant her a full reprieve, in less than thirty days. Deporting Fatiha would have severe consequences for American citizens, including fifteen year-old Sami, and undercut our basic values.
It is not as though Sami can simply move to Morocco with his mom and resume the life that he has here in Ohio. In Morocco, he would lose access to doctors, therapies, and surgeries that keep him alive. He would also be forced to live a very different type of existence, as a person with a disability there, shut off from the rest of society. Sami is an American; this is his home and he belongs here.
In the video on Inclusion Revolution’s website, you can see Fatiha’s heart break at what would be in store for her son if she is deported. She’d either be separated from him and unable to care for him directly, or face having her loving, dynamic son be stigmatized and forced to live in the shadows of a country that would not embrace him. It is right and just to let Sami continue to live his life in his home, the United States, in a country that accepts him, alongside his mother who loves and cares for him.
For more, see:
- Dayton Daily News: “Englewood mom gets 30-day deportation reprieve”
- Inclusion Revolution:
- Read all about Fatiha’s deportation case at America’s Voice here