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Englewood, OH – 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 cruelly insisting on deporting her.
Fathia’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.
Through many lawyers, the Elgharib family tried to cement their legal status, but failed. Following September 11, 2001, Fatiha’s husband came forward and registered under President Bush’s Muslim registry. This act – attempting to comply with the government’s demand – is what set off Fatiha’s deportation nightmare. Her daughter Sara Hamdi recounts her family’s experience in a heartbreaking blog post published by Organizing for Action. Sara’s blog, “Is my story being erased?” is excerpted below.
Then 9/11 happened. We’re Muslim; when we saw flyers around town asking Muslims to do a special registration, a registration that would supposedly streamline the naturalization process, my father went in. It was also around the time we were finally able to file for legal status. But when he showed up, they handcuffed him and tried to claim that he had come into the country illegally, that he had avoided the law. My mother, who was with him, tried to clarify—but they got angry and took away her passport. They said our lawyer would receive a notice in the mail within 30 days summoning her. As far as we know, that paper never came.
But in June 2007, we got a knock on the door. It was law enforcement, coming to get my mom because she had failed to appear at a court hearing—a hearing we were never notified of, and at this point, six years after it was supposed to occur. Whether they sent the notice to a wrong address, or our lawyer never gave it to us, we’ll never know—we never got anything, and no one is willing to look years back to see what the mistake could have been. But beyond that, and to this day, no one has given us a chance to express our side, what we’ve been through, how hard we’ve tried.
They took my mom to a hearing, where they never let her speak, and then they detained her for five months. I was only 17. When they finally let her out of detention in November of that year, they never gave us a reason why.
Since then, she has been checking in with law enforcement as often as they wanted. Still we had faith that if we did the right thing, we’d be okay. But when this administration came in, we were terrified—and just a couple of months ago, they let her know they’re going to deport her. Last week, they put an ankle monitor on her; just this week, they said November 27th would most likely be the date of her deportation.