Immigration Rights Activists Demand Release of 2 Palestinian Asylum Seekers from an Arizona Detention Center

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A view of Palestine. - COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of Photospin
  • A view of Palestine.

Two Palestinian asylum seekers have been imprisoned for one year in an immigration detention center in Florence, Arizona—one could be deported at any time, and the other's fate is in limbo, according to the immigrants' rights advocacy group Not One More Deportation

The organization, with the help of the UA's Students for Justice in Palestine, No More Deaths and other advocacy groups, is rolling around a petition to demand Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release Hisham Shaban Ghalia and Mounis Hammouda, both of whom, about five years ago, fled intense violence and poverty in the Gaza Strip. 

According to Not One More Deportation, it has been determined that Ghalia and Hammouda have "credible fear they could face indefinite detention or be killed if deported back to their region of the world.

Both men migrated undocumented through more than a handful of countries between the Middle East, Europe, and made it all the way over to South and Central America, before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, where they requested humanitarian asylum this past November. (Check out this October 2015 article on The Guardian for more information about the big wave of Middle Eastern and African refugees and migrants trying to reach the U.S. through Mexico. The article features Ghalia and Hammouda's story.)

"Even though both men were determined to have 'credible fear,' the first step in claiming humanitarian protection from persecution, they are still being held in indefinite detention," the petition says.

Ghalia's asylum claim was denied by immigration officials, who issued a final order of removal, "but are unable to deport him due to restrictions that prevent U.S. immigration authorities from dealing directly with the Palestinian authorities," the petition says. "Although both men meet 'low priority' criteria under the Department of Homeland Security’s own standards, they remain in limbo, and subject to indefinite detention."

A protest demanding their release was supposed to take place today, but was canceled. Another is in the works, according to Gabe Schivone, an immigration rights activist, member of Students for Justice in Palestine, and co-author of The Guardian article I pointed out. In the meantime, you can find the petition on the Not One More Deportation website.

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