“Justice for Kadhim! Justice for Kadhim! Justice for Kadhim!”

When 64-year-old Iraqi refugee Kadhim Al-bumohammed arrived at a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office for a scheduled appointment with immigration officials this morning, he was met with an outpouring of support from the community.

More than a hundred people from across Albuquerque came to listen as Al-bumohammed, his family, his lawyer, the ACLU of New Mexico, an Iraq war veteran, and religious leaders addressed the press. Their message was clear: We must all fight back against a nation-wide rise in deportations that are tearing families apart and, in many cases, returning immigrants to countries where they face persecution or death. 

Their message was clear: We must all fight back against a nation-wide rise in deportations that are tearing families apart and, in many cases, returning immigrants to countries where they face persecution or death. 

In the 26 years that Al-bumohammed has lived in the United States, he’s planted deep roots, raising four children with his wife, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen.  He’s also served the country he calls home with honor.  While working at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California for five years, Al-Bumohammed provided soldiers in the U.S. military deploying to Iraq with cultural and linguistic training.

Al-bumohammed’s lawyer, Rebecca Kitson, said her client’s military service puts him at great risk of being imprisoned or even killed if deported.

A visibly upset and distressed Al-bumohammed told the press and supporters that he’s just looking “for fair justice.” His 17-year-old daughter broke down in tears as she expressed fear that her dad would be torn away from her at such a young age.  “I have nothing, but him and my mom,” she cried.

Supporters in the crowd cheered and held signs recognizing Al-bumohammed’s service to the country and demanding that he be allowed to stay.

“Honor loyal service. Don’t deport.”

“Kadhim helped our troops.  Now it’s our turn to help Kadhim!”

“Let Kadhim Stay!”

Our own ACLU-NM staff attorney Kristin Love took to the podium to denounce the arrests of hundreds of Iraqis, like Al-bumohammed, in recent weeks.

“As many as 1,400 Iraqis have final orders of deportation and are facing deportation under this administration to a country where they fear persecution, torture, and death.”

Love also announced that the ACLU of New Mexico has joined a class-action suit first filed by the ACLU of Michigan and the national ACLU seeking to block deportations to Iraq.

“We are asking the judge to give people a lifesaving stay which would allow them to speak with an attorney and appear before an immigration judge so that that judge can determine if those people’s circumstances have changed and if country conditions in Iraq have changed such that it would present grave danger such as persecution, torture, and death for people to be returned to Iraq.”

The ACLU of New Mexico brings this case on behalf of Abbas Oda Manshad Al-Sokaini, a local resident who fled from Iraq in 1996 and found asylum in the United States.

Like Al-bumohammed, Al-Sokaini helped the United States military.  While serving in the Iraqi military, he collaborated with American soldiers by providing information about the location of Saddam’s weapons and ammunition caches.

Today, the Albuquerque community’s show of support for Kadhim Al-bumohammed resulted in a short-term win –his appointment with immigration officials was postponed until further notice. But we must keep up the fight and remain vigilant as the Trump administration doubles down on its xenophobic policies.  We hope you’ll continue to fight with us, New Mexico.

 

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