An Iraqi man who has lived in the U.S. for 23 years and who has helped the American military in Iraq and in the U.S. is set for deportation Thursday despite a local outpouring of support for his staying in the country with his American citizen wife and citizen children.
Kadhim Al-bumohammed, 64, who in June was called up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents three months ahead of his annual check-in, was ordered this week to pack a bag and “report for removal” Thursday morning.
What exactly will happen at the meeting isn’t clear, since on Tuesday a Michigan judge, in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, halted all deportations for Iraqis.
For years, Iraq has refused to accept deportees. But in March, Iraq agreed to begin accepting deportees in exchange for being taken off the list of countries on President Trump’s travel ban, triggering an ICE roundup of hundreds of Iraqi immigrants they say have criminal records — including Al-bumohammed.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok did not respond to question about Al-bumohammed’s case, including if he would be detained as the Michigan case proceeds.
Al-bumohammed’s attorney, Rebecca Kitson, said she isn’t sure if ICE plans on holding Al-bumohammed, but if its agents do hold him, she fears for his health, as he suffers from several serious medical issues.
Hundreds of Albuquerque supporters showed up for Al-bumohammed’s June meeting, which ICE canceled, giving hope that maybe his deportation case might be reopened and he might be allowed to stay.
Supporters are also likely to gather for Thursday’s meeting.
Taking sanctuary at a church is an option, but Al-bumohammed plans to turn himself in despite the dangers he faces were he to return to the country, his attorney Rebecca Kitson said after the ACLU meeting.
“There would be no place that would be safe for him there,” she said, noting Al-bumohammed worked for the U.S. military in the first American invasion of Iraq, an act that helped him secure refugee status in the U.S. in 1994. He was quickly granted a green card.
Al-bumohammed also worked for the federal government once he arrived in the U.S. Kitson said he helped teach language and cultural awareness as a contractor on military bases in California, where he first settled. It is there he met his then common-law wife, with whom he had four children. It was there that he was twice convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges without serious injury in 1997. He later won sole custody of his four children, Kitson said.
Al-bumohammed’s case caught federal attention in 2004 when, federal agents likely renewing his green card found his misdemeanor violations and flagged him for deportation. Al-bumohammed lost three rounds of appeal to stay in the country and was ordered deported in 2010. But Iraq wasn’t accepting deportees, so he was allowed to stay as long as he checked-in annually, which Kitson said he has. He was scheduled for his annual check-in in September.