Palestinian Family Reunited After Detention - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/04/07 - Dallas, Texas

Palestinian Family Reunited After Detention

Zahra Ibrahim, a 3-year-old U.S. citizen, holds a picture of her sisters at the apartment of her uncle, Ahmad Ibrahim, on Wednesday in Dallas. Zahra Ibrahim, a 3-year-old U.S. citizen, holds a picture of her sisters at the apartment of her uncle, Ahmad Ibrahim, on Wednesday in Dallas.

A Palestinian woman and four of her children were released Saturday morning from the Texas immigration detention center where they've been held for three months.

Immigration officers arrested Salaheddin Ibrahim, his wife, Hanan, and four of their children in November at their Richardson home more than two years after their petition for asylum was denied.

Hanan Ibrahim, 34, who is five months pregnant, has been incarcerated since then at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, near Austin. Four of her children, Hamzeh Ibrahim, 15; Rodaina, 14; Maryam, 8; and Faten, 5, also were detained at the same center.

Meanwhile, her husband, 37, was being held at the Rolling Plains Regional Jail in Haskell, near Abilene. Attorneys for the family expect him to be released soon also.

Escalating violence in their homeland swayed a federal immigration panel Friday to reconsider the family's asylum request, nullifying the order for removal from the U.S.

"Clearly the public glare of how horrible it is for children being detained and the family being split up caused this," Theodore Cox, one of the family's attorneys, said of the decision.

On Saturday, a black limo carried the Ibrahims' youngest child, 3-year-old Zahra, and her uncle, Ahmad Ibrahim, to pick up Hanan Ibrahim and the four children. Real estate developer Ralph Isenberg, who has become an advocate for the family, set up the limo trip.

"I can't imagine children in jail. Quite frankly, it's just not acceptable," said Isenberg, whose Chinese-born wife was held for a time at an immigration detention center. "What type of message do we send to the rest of the world community when we lock up kids and throw away the key?"

As they made the five-hour trip to the Dallas area, the siblings were sitting in the back of the limo sipping orange juice, chatting and deciding where to stop for lunch, their uncle Ahmad Ibrahim said by phone.

The family was considering how to celebrate their release, Ahmad Ibrahim said, while the laughter of children rang in the background.

Before Friday's order, lawyers for the Ibrahims pointed out the family was willing to leave the United States but had nowhere to go. Travel documents issued to the family by the Jordanian government expired and the country refused to accept them. Other countries were not willing to take them or issue them travel documents.

"They cannot get on an airplane. They can't just issue themselves travel documents," said Joshua Bardavid, one the family's attorneys.


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