By Britanny Hamama
Tonight, my mom, Nahrain Hamama, is attending the State of the Union in Washington, DC, as a guest of U.S. Congressman Sander Levin.
When my mom told me, I couldn’t believe it. I asked, "The actual State of the Union?”
I feel so thankful and overwhelmed that my family has not been forgotten, that the heartache and fear we have felt the past seven months matters.
On June 11, 2017, my dad, Sam Hamama along with hundreds of other Iraqi nationals across the country, was arrested without warning by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and faced deportation to Iraq where they would likely have been tortured or even killed because he is a Chaldean Christian.
They were arrested for mistakes they made decades ago. But many, like my dad, already paid their debt to society and have made the most of the second chances they were given. Their homes, families, and lives are rooted here.
Thankfully, so many people have supported us, like the ACLU, which filed a federal lawsuit, Hamama v. Adducci, to stop the deportations. The ACLU also asked the judge that everyone be released from detention.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith ruled that the detainees will have an opportunity to be released on bond, unless an immigration judge finds clear and convincing evidence that they pose a flight risk or a public safety risk. This Thursday, February 1st, is my dad’s chance. All we ever wanted was a date to look forward to, and now that we have it, I am anxious. I hope that the immigration judge listens and understands the type of life my dad leads and realizes that we need him at home while his immigration case continues in court
I hope the judge sees the dad and man that I know - a man that loves his family deeply, cares about his community, and has worked hard to provide for our family.
Tonight, my mom's presence at the State of the Union will continue to fortify not just us - but every family ripped apart by the June 11 arrests and detention. Her presence will show that we are not forgotten.
I hope our family will be whole again soon. I miss my dad dearly. I know my mom and siblings do too. But when he does return home, our fight is not over. Many are still detained, torn from their families, and once released they—like my Dad—will still need to win in immigration court so that they can stay in America with their families, rather than being deported to face torture or death in Iraq.
We must continue to tell our stories and let our presence be known at the nation's capital and throughout the country. Our voices matter. Our families matter. We matter.
"Tonight, my mom's presence at the State of the Union will continue to fortify not just us - but every family ripped apart by the June 11 arrests and detention. Her presence will show that we are not forgotten."