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Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi

This is who the now-injuncted executive order suspending refugee resettlement and immigration visas from certain countries was supposed to “protect” us from.

The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for a U.S. contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men were detained at the airport Friday night after arriving on separate flights.


In the arrivals hall at Terminal 4 of Kennedy Airport, Doss and two other lawyers fought fatigue as they tried to learn the status of their clients on the other side of the security perimeter.

“We’ve never had an issue once one of our clients was at a port of entry in the United States,” Doss said. “To see people being detained indefinitely in the country that’s supposed to welcome them is a total shock.”

“These are people with valid visas and legitimate refugee claims who have already been determined by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be admissible and to be allowed to enter the U.S. and now are being unlawfully detained,” Doss said.


According to the filing, Hameed Khalid Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day as Trump’s inauguration. He worked with the United States in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, engineer and contractor — over the course of roughly a decade.

Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said that he was directly targeted twice for working with the U.S. military.

A husband and father of three, he arrived at Kennedy Airport Friday evening with his family. Darweesh’s wife and children made it through passport control and customs, but agents of Customs and Border Protection stopped and detained him.

Alshawi was supposed to be reunited with his wife, who has been living in Texas. The wife, who asked to be identified by her first initial of D. out of concern for her and her family’s safety, wiped away tears as she sat on a couch in her sister’s house early Saturday, in a Houston suburb.

The woman, a 32-year-old who was born in Iraq, met her husband while both were students at a Baghdad college. The couple has one child — a 7-year-old son who is in first grade. The boy was asleep in the house at 3 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, oblivious to the fact that his father was in the United States, but under detention and the possible threat of return to Iraq.

Relatives crowded the living room in their pajamas and slippers, making and receiving phone calls to and from other relatives and the refugee’s lawyers. At times, D. was so emotional she had trouble speaking about her husband’s predicament.

She pulled out her cellphone and flipped through her pictures while seated on the couch. She wanted to show a reporter a picture she took of her son’s letter to Santa Claus. In November, at a Macy’s Santa-letter display at a nearby mall, the boy wrote out his wish: “Dear Santa: Can you bring my Dad from Sweden pls.” He has not seen his father in three years.

“I’m really breaking down, because I don’t know what to do,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

She and her relatives had not told her son that his father was finally coming to Houston and that his wish to Santa was about to come true. “It was a surprise for him,” she said.

Thankfully, there is a good ending to this particular story.

An Iraqi refugee bound for Houston was released on Saturday night after being detained for 22 hours at JFK Airport. He was one of the first people prevented from entering the U.S. under President Donald Trump’s executive orders restricting immigration and is central to a lawsuit challenging the order.

A temporary stay was granted by a federal judge in the case late Saturday that allows detainees with visas at airports to stay in the country temporarily.

Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi was on his way to live with his wife and 7-year-old son, who had previously come to Houston as refugees. “I’m very happy,” he told a small group of reporters at the Terminal 4 arrivals hall through an interpreter. He wore a black jacket and gray shirt and had a full face of stubble. “I’m very tired, but I’m very happy,” he said.


Alshawi was one of two Iraqi refugees named as plaintiffs in an ACLU lawsuit on Saturday morning against the Trump administration, alleging that the executive orders violated the Fifth Amendment and the Immigration and Nationality Act. The other plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a former interpreter for the U.S. Army, was released from JFK after 17 hours of detention and an intervention from two members of Congress.

The ACLU lawyer handling the case, Andre Segura, said he hadn’t been allowed to meet with Alshawi at all before his release. It’s not clear exactly who made the decision to let Alshawi go free— Segura said about 30 minutes before Alshawi was released, a Customs and Border Protection official told him the order had come “from the top.”

Alshawi is staying in New York Saturday and flying to Houston to meet his family Sunday. “I’m going to hug them for a very long time,” he said.

All this happened because of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and a swift ruling by a judge. That any of this happened at all is a national disgrace, though sadly not a surprise. We can argue the politics and legalities of this all we want, but I’m going to close with this:

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Were you a sheep or a goat in this story?

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  1. Flypusher says:

    If the religious arguments don’t move you, there are secular reasons why this was a bad and poorly-executed idea. I included these reasons in the messages I sent to my Rep (Olson) and Senators (who still have not taken a stand AFAIK):

    1) It betrays people who have risked their lives to assist the US military in Middle East war zones. Who in their right minds would want to help America in future wars if we abandon our allies so callously?
    2) It reinforces the narrative from terrorist groups like ISIS that the US is at war with the ENTIRE Islamic world.
    3) It harms our scientific community, as it is currently barring foreign researchers from these countries from coming here to help us make new discoveries, AND has the potential to discourage future applicants from any foreign country from choosing America as a place to study and work.
    4) It is completely contrary to what is actually exceptional about America, that we take in people fleeing oppression and tyranny.
    5) It is interesting to note that countries not listed on the ban, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, do business with Trump Enterprises, and were home to terrorists who have actually killed Americans.

    Trump has GOP majorities in both houses of Congress. He doesn’t need to issue EOs to make changes in immigration/refugee policy. Is Congress going to meekly surrender their powers/perogitives without a fight?

    Bannon is one nasty piece of work and he knows how to manipulate Trump.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I think this temporary stop is a good idea, but was bad in its implementation. The translator and some of the other folks already had been vetted, as well as the green card holders. They should not have been detained. What we are trying to accomplish is to keep refugees out because we can’t vet them, in other words, keep people out who haven’t already been checked out and taken in.

    I think the issue has settled out that green card holders will no longer be detained, so that’s one kink that has been worked out. We also need to make sure that people who have helped us who hold that specific visa don’t get detained. I hope that is settled, too. We made promises to those people, and those promises need to be honored, period. This was a black eye for Trump that hopefully has been worked out.

    But now to those refugees. Using the biblical example, those hungry, thirsty strangers back in the day weren’t liable to slit your throat while you were feeding them. So, what to do then? Well, Trump already has the reasonable solution, to get them to safe zones….in their own country. It’s cheaper to sequester them in their own country, it’s safer for us, tax dollars we spend trying to help refugees go further, so we can help MORE people, and the icing on the top is, Trump just got the Saudis, UAE, etc. to agree to help pay for the refugees to be sequestered in safe zones. These people will be taken care of, and hopefully when order is restored, will be first on the scene to help rebuild their own countries.

  3. brad m says:

    What a load of horse s*** I just read.

  4. brad m says:


    Cruz has put out a statement on his website and deflective to the core issues being raised.

    His office refuses to answer questions about the exec order’s constitutionality?

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Hey Brad:

    Assuming you were talking about my post, here’s Chuck Schumer a year ago saying a ban on Syrian refugees may be necessary:

    This seems no different than the border wall. As long as we were just talking and voting on it, but we weren’t serious about actually building the thing, everybody thought it was a great idea. Now that someone is actually doing something, ZOMG! It’s the Nazis all over again.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    Just checked Ted’s website. It looks like he’s on board the Trump train, at least with respect to this particular issue.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    And here’s Rasmussen reporting that a majority of Americans support the temporary ban, which tells us that at least a few non-deplorables support this, too.

  8. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Rasmussen is a fake poll outfit in the same category of the fake news by Fox. By the way Fox says less than 1/2

    If one can think outside the little circle they live their lives in, one would think of how others will react.

    What is going to happen when Muslim countries start kicking Christians out? When countries will not let Americans in? America is a small part of the world.

    But Bill you think Trump is tough, Iran just fired a missile, where is Trump? North Korea has restarted a nuclear reactor where is Trump? Philippines is threatening to kick us out where is Trump? Mexico cancelled and like a spurned lover Trump called to make up the next day.

  9. Bill Daniels says:

    As far as the Philippines, not to place blame, but Obama strained that relationship, and frankly, they need us a lot more than we need them, given China’s flexing of its muscles in the region. I’d be happy to see us pull our assets out of the Philippines and bring them home. Why should we contributing to their economy, when the US needs those support jobs, and the money those troops will spend.

    Iran and North Korea? They are like little chihuahuas, vying for our attention. And as far as Mexico goes, hearing the truth is unpleasant for them, but they, like the Philippines, aren’t dealing from a position of strength. They are a failed country that depends on sending their migrants and their drugs north to stay afloat. Trump just told them that program is over, and they are pouting. Trump will build some sections of wall, and he will come up with some plausible way of saying the money came from Mexico, even if it turns out to be a tax on remittances, a redirecting of foreign aid from the corrupt Mexican government to the Mexico wall, etc. Personally, I think the tariff was just a saber rattling threat….play ball or things can get bad.

    And you are worried about a reciprocal travel ban? Iraq already said they were going to do that. Darn. There goes my Summer vacation travel plans. What Trump has done is no different than when Reagan called the USSR the ‘Evil Empire.” Was that uncomfortable for them to hear? Yes, but somebody needed to say it. To the 7 countries, the message is clear: stop supporting terrorism. Is that blunt? Yes, but just like the USSR, somebody needed to step up and actually say it. This is what leadership looks like.

  10. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Bill small minds at work, how long are you going to blame Obama.

    This tax year when people pay those mandates that is Trumpcare, they promised to repeal it on day one. They haven’t but they can. They can even make those mandates payments retroactive. Why won’t they do that Bill?

    Iraq is a small country how many lives and money have we put into the hell hole, Bill. If you want to add the wounded and the ones that came back with mental problems. How much has that cost us?

    Philippines does not need us as much as we need them. Think world wide Bill, where do we naval bases or the right to dock military ships?

    Bill if the military is here, how do they respond to crises? Imagine Benghazi with all our troops here state side. While we are at it let us remove all those embassies and save more money.

    Anyhow, let us see where we are in two years Bill, assuming the Russian Puppet doesn’t start WWIII and kill us all. Will you volunteer Bill to go fight?
    If Mexico is such a little dog why did Trump go crawling back? Like Bannon seeing the destruction of this country may not be a bad idea, right Bill.

  11. Bill Daniels says:


    On ObamaCare, Trump is stuck a bit. The subsidies (read: welfare) that most of those people who bought an “exchange” plan get was a promise that, for better or worse needs to be honored, meaning that real change can’t be enacted until 2018. That means he has a year to come up with the “repeal and replacement.” The nice thing about that is, it means another year of suffering for most Americans like me, who are paying more for less, and another year for a significant percentage of those who actually got insurance out of it, but can’t afford to use it due to high deductibles to suffer. In other words, it will be another year for O’care to become less popular, and thus, easier to get rid of.

    Also, where did you read that Trump called Nieto after the aborted meeting, and not the other way around? Got a link for that?

    Iraq? I think we agree, as does most of the country, that Iraq was the biggest debacle since Vietnam. George Bush, Hillary, and all the people who voted for it did severe damage to our country, and it’s horrible that we have to tell the families of all those dead and wounded that their sacrifice was basically for nothing, but there it is….that’s the truth. They died for nothing, and Code Pink was right….Bush ought to have faced war crimes trials in Den Hague.

    And finally, to the military. I supported Ron Paul in his several campaigns for president, so I have heard the argument against pulling all our military out the 120 or so countries they are currently in before. Let me ask you something. Let’s say we pull our troops out of 10% of those countries, we repatriate our troops from 12 or so countries. Will that be the end of our country? Will we be unable to project power? No other country in the world has anything like this kind of military presence. Look at China and Russia. They seem to be able to protect their interests just fine without bases world wide. We can lose a few and it won’t be the end of the world (pun intended).

  12. Neither Here Nor There says:

    As to be in isolation, let me state what Prince Charles stated today, We are forgetting the lessons from the past.

    Is there a link, if Nieto had called Trump, Trump would have bragged about it. Common sense would dictate that.

    I remember that day one was when it was to occur. Are we now making it a year, has Trump or the Republicans said a year? Or is that a Bill thing. Besides I only mentioned the mandates which was one of the most hated part. They can repeal that immediately and make it retroactive. What is a few billion dollars more in debt when they are already have a budget for a trillion dollars in debt a year for the next ten years.

    Thus far Trump has said he will keep Obama’s LGBT federal rights in place, but they will soon add a religious exception. How is that going to work out.

    I agree that military should be cut, but that part of the budget is going up. Lot of spending with no money to pay for it. Print more money.

    As I stated earlier, in two years we will see.