Iraqi Wife In Detroit: U.S. Immigration Treated My Husband Like A Criminal

Jan 30, 2017
Originally published on January 30, 2017 9:49 am
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This past weekend was supposed to be a special one for an Iraqi family in Michigan, after a long immigration process a woman and her husband planned a reunion. NPR's Jeff Brady reports on what really happened.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Until last year, Shahad Khairuldeen says she worked for a U.S. contractor in Iraq performing HR and IT tasks. Because of that work, she says it wasn't safe to stay in her country. Like many others who helped the U.S. in Iraq, she applied for a special visa.

SHAHAD KHAIRULDEEN: And it's taken me four years to get the visa because it go under seven level of security check.

BRADY: Khairuldeen came to the U.S. last fall with their 3-year-old son. She says her husband had to wait for a renewed passport. He traveled from Iraq to Philadelphia on Saturday, and then was supposed to catch a connecting flight to Detroit.

KHAIRULDEEN: And I didn't know why he's not showing, I start to worry about him. I thought something happened to him. I wait three hours and then somebody called me and told me they have my husband.

BRADY: Khairuldeen says authorities offered few details except that her husband, Ahmed Al Janabi, was still in Philadelphia. On Saturday night, a judge blocked Trump administration plans to deport immigrants affected by the travel ban. Khairuldeen's husband was released Sunday morning. A few hours later, he arrived in Detroit, that's when Khairuldeen learned he was put in handcuffs and prison clothes and locked up overnight.

KHAIRULDEEN: That is horrible. He didn't do anything wrong. He's not a criminal. He come here on a legal paper. They shouldn't treat him like that.

BRADY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions about this particular case. In a statement the agency said less than 1 percent of international travelers at airports were affected, and the statement said the agency treats the people it encounters humanely and with professionalism. Khairuldeen disagrees, but at this point she's happy to have her family back together again. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.