Alien Absconder Initiative
The Seattle Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested Nadin Hamoui and her parents - Safouh Hamoui and Hanan Ismail - on 22 Feb. 2002 on the grounds of immigration violation. Nadin and her mother Ismail were detained for nine months, and her father is still in custody. Nadin's younger sister and brother (a U.S. citizen) were left at home without their parents in all those months.
""Volunteer experts have declared that my father will probably be killed if we are deported to Syria?My mother may lose her life in Syria because she has a serious illness?believe me; we are fighting for our lives!"" - Nadin Hamoui
Nadin's family fled Syria in 1992, because her father Safouh Hamoui was accused of attempting to assassinate the Vice President. They entered the United States as tourists, and have failed to gain political asylum for seven years. The INS gave out a deportation order in 2000. The family ignored the order because their then-attorney told them that the INS would not act while the order was contested.
The ""Alien Absconder Initiative"" gives local law enforcement agencies access to the names of 314,000 immigrants who allegedly have orders for deportation or removal. On a Muslim holiday on 22 Feb. about 15 local police officers banged on Nadin's door early in the morning, and arrested Nadin and her parents. During the arrest, a police officer pointed his gun and flashlight at the face of Nadin's mother, while she insisted to cover her hair; and Nadin's father was handcuffed like a criminal.
Local police are already detaining and deporting alleged ""absconders"" under the ""Alien Absconder Initiative"" even though many of these immigrants may have a legal defense against deportation. In this case, Nadin's family has not had a hearing about the evidence that they will be tortured in Syria.
Besides the Arab American Community Coalition, other groups working to free the family include the Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington, Washington chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee.
- ACLU and American Immigration Lawyers Association, "Justice for All - Selective Enforcement in Post 9-11 America," Public forum, Washington, DC., June 4, 2003.
- John Iwasaki, "Syrian family's joy is muted," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 19, 2002.