A social justice group is demanding the release of Mosa Hamadeesa, a Palestinian from the West Bank who faces deportation after federal immigration officials arrested him outside his Raleigh home last week.
Muslims for Social Justice, a North Carolina group, gathered in front of the Wake County Justice Center in downtown Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon to support Hamadeesa.
“Public pressure is the only way things are going to change,” said Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice. “We want to make it more public and shed a light on this, but we also want people to know that it’s not just one case – this is happening to many people.”
Hamadeesa, a husband and father of four who works as a mechanic, came to the United States 10 years ago on a travel visa.
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He applied for asylum within a year of his arrival but was denied in 2013. He appealed but was denied again, said Allison Chan, Hamadeesa’s lawyer.
One of Hamadeesa’s children, 9-year-old Nadine, has a rare medical condition involving a tumor on her femur. It is “vital” for doctors to monitor Nadine for several more years, Dr. William Eward, a cancer surgeon at Duke who removed the tumor, wrote in a letter to immigration officials.
“If Nadine returns to the Middle East, I can assure you that she will not have access to an Orthopaedic Oncologist,” Eward wrote.
Eward also praised the family, noting Hamadeesa’s work ethic, his wife’s dedication to motherhood and the couple’s “bright, well-behaved” children who “speak excellent English.”
“The Hamadeesa family are exactly the kind of people that we would want to immigrate to our country,” he wrote.
Nadine attended the rally Wednesday.
“My dad was an amazing father and did everything he could to help us,” she said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Hamadeesa June 1.
Chan, an immigration attorney with Margaret W. Wong & Associates in Raleigh, has filed a motion to reopen Hamadeesa’s case and another motion to halt deportation.
“I am hopeful and I do believe we have a strong case,” Chan said. “He is really someone the American public should support. It’s very frustrating that they’ve continued to hold him despite no imminent removal.”
Hamadeesa’s family and friends have asked Congressman David Price to intervene.
“Help my father be free,” read one of the signs Hamadeesa’s daughters were holding Wednesday. “He is the best.”
Farris Barakat, the brother of one of three Triangle college students who were slain in Chapel Hill in 2015, said Hamadeesa’s family desperately needs him back.
“America, you should be ashamed of yourselves to be in a position to where we have no decency left,” Barakat said. “We’re turning a blind eye to the kids that need them. ... We’re talking about a family that desperately needs their family back.”
Chan said she’s seen an uptick in calls about immigration and deportation since Donald Trump became president in January. She said she’s also seen an increase in ICE arresting people who may not pose a major threat, such as those without criminal records.
“There is a lack of prosecutorial discretion in this new administration,” she said. “There’s been a shift. It’s also a major scare for families. This may be their biggest fear.”
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler