Congress Members Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn/Queens/Manhattan) and Jerry Nadler (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) Saturday went to JFK Airport and won the release of an Iraqi refugee that was detained under the President Donald Trump’s Executive Order issued on Friday.
The order bars entry to refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It blocks any visitors for 90 days from seven designated countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Department of Homeland Security initially said the order would bar permanent alien residents, also known as green card holders, from those seven countries from returning to the United States. It has since recanted that part of the order.
The order immediately stranded hundreds of green cards holders that were traveling abroad in those countries as well as refugees – some in mid-flight – all detained either by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials, and in some cases, in the seven aforementioned countries.
The order sparked massive protests at JFK Airport and cities across the country and the world. Velazquez and Nadler were the first among many elected officials to arrive at JFK in protest. After meeting with officials from the Custom and Border Patrol agency, the two Congress members succeeded in getting one of the refugees, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, release. Darweesh is an Iraqi translator, who put his life on the line in helping the United States government and its military in Iraq.
“Today, we saw in real human terms the damage and the absurdity of Trump’s policies. The president’s executive order is mean-spirited, ill-conceived, and ill-advised. The order almost banned a man from entering the country who has worked for the United States government for 10 years, who risked his life to help us and to help our troops, and who loves our country. Thankfully, we did not sit idly by. We took action. We demanded his release, and the release of the others who are being unlawfully detained. We are pleased to announce that Hameed Khalid Darweesh has been released and can now be reunited with his family,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.
“This should not happen in America. We shouldn’t have to demand the release of refugees one by one. We must fight this executive order in the streets, in the courts, anywhere, anytime. We must resist. We must fight. We must keep working to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave.”