By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The Arab-American Civil Rights League filed two motions with the Board of Immigration Appeals to re-open the case and grant an emergency stay of removal for Dearborn resident Ibrahim Souedan.
ACRL Founder Nabih Ayad said Souedan was facing deportation from the United States to Lebanon for overstaying his visa in 2004. Shortly after, Souedan started helping the FBI by agreeing to testify against an important figure in the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hezbollah.
“Mr. Souedan’s cooperation led the brother of the head of the military department to plead and be sentenced to 54 months in prison,” a ACRL press release read. “After providing this information, Mr. Souedan and the U.S. government knew that he could no longer go back to his home country as he would be a target for revenge by the very powerful Hezbollah organization.”
During a press conference held at the ACRL, 4917 Schaefer Road, Ayad said the writ habeas corpus filed to bring Souedan in front of the court to determine if his deportation is valid was denied by the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan on Oct. 23.
Souedan was unable to attend the press conference because he was receiving treatment at Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn for heart issues brought by the stress and trauma of deportation, Ayad said.
Souedan works as a carpenter, has no criminal record and was described as a hard-worker by Ayad during the press conference. Souedan’s oldest son, Hadi Souedan spoke with his two brothers Youssef and Jad present while his sisters Rayan and Lara were with their father and mother.
Hadi Souedan said that when he spoke with his father at the hospital earlier in the day, he looked pale, hasn’t been eating and not the same funny person he knows.
“He just came here and didn’t know better,” Hadi Souedan said. “He ended up getting caught up with the government and he helped them but they didn’t help him and now he’s just facing deportation and all the stress and trauma and he has an existing heart condition. He can’t handle any of the stress and if he goes back to Lebanon all he is going to be facing is prosecution and that’s not what I want. I want him to be here with our family.”
If the 59-year-old Souedan had flown to Lebanon on Oct. 24, he would have been tortured or killed in revenge by members of Hezbollah, Ayad said.
Souedan first came to America with his wife and oldest son in November 2000, overstayed his visa in 2004 and agreed to voluntary departure after a deportation hearing.
In 2005, Souedan was approached by the FBI to help provide information on a member of Hezbollah. The member lived at Souedan’s house for about three months where information collected was communicated to the FBI leading to the arrest.
“One could only imagine that an individual such as this — why in the world our government would want him to be sent back,” Ayad said. “He helped this government in protecting against terrorism. He helped this government in the interest of national security, yet they feel bestowed upon them to deport this individual that helped them, our country and community.”
ACRL Director Rula Aoun said in situations like Souedan’s, the government eventually will find itself in a situation where individuals are aware of its pattern of practice and no longer trust its word.
“This is a situation that could be very hurtful to the U.S. government themselves,” she said. “There is no incentive to ever assist or collaborate or help the government when these stories we’re hearing over and over in the media about an individual being approached by the government in exchange for safety or immunity who in turn ends up being lied to and prosecuted themselves for their own act.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])