By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The family of Dearborn Heights resident Median El-Moustrah, 49, held a rally outside their house Dec. 2 where they pleaded for his stay of deportation after he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month.
El-Moustrah suffers from health issues including liver damage, hepatitis B and diabetes and hearing loss, according to his family.
He has been held in Calhoun County Jail since he was detained Nov. 12 and his green card was revoked. Since that time El-Moustrah has lost 20 pounds due to his health illness, his daughter Mariam Charara said.
On Nov. 27 a request for a stay of deportation on humanitarian grounds was rejected and a temporary stay has been put in place while El-Moustrah is in ICE custody.
El-Moustrah has been living in the United States for 30 years, obtaining a green card when he was married for about one year in the 1990s. He is now remarried with three children.
When El-Moustrah attempted to renew his green card 15 years later and couldn’t remember his wedding anniversary from the first marriage when asked by a judge.
ICE officials accused El-Moustrah of marriage fraud even through his ex-wife signed a sworn affidavit confirming that their marriage was valid and detailing the circumstances of their divorce.
If deported, El-Moustrah will be sent to Lebanon where ongoing protests have caused a government shutdown and would not allow El-Moustrah to receive proper medical care.
During the Dec. 2 rally in the 8000 block of Berwyn — attended by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), family, community members, business partners and friends — Charara spoke about the deportation.
Charara said her father has been compliant with ICE since the beginning, getting medical records and documents stating El-Moustrah’s shouldn’t travel due to necessary further treatment.
She also added that a specialist recommended an evaluation for a liver transplant and that appointment was supposed to happen this month.
“This has been a real nightmare,” Charara said. “This has been a nightmare that I don’t wish upon anyone, any human at all. Our life drastically changed and every year I hope and I pray that there will be justice.
“My father is an innocent man. I’m going to set the record now. My father is a very hard worker who gave his life for us and scarificed every minute for us. My father does not deserve to be behind bars, let alone thrown into a country he has no ties to. This is where he built his foundation. This is where his home is. This where his family is and in this time where he is extremely ill it is not fair that someone is putting him in a jail cell and saying he is fit to fly.”
Tlaib expressed concerns about what doctor El-Moustrah saw while in detention because during congressional hearings it was discovered that people in detention centers were not being seen or treated by real doctors.
She also said El-Moustrah’s case is one of the strongest that has come through her office in terms of medical deferment.
“When Mariam came to my office and gave me this stack of medical documents, the first thing I asked her was, “Will we have a medical deferment process?’ She was, like, ‘We already replied. They haven’t responded in over a year.’
“In the meantime, he complied by going in every single month to check in. He wasn’t going anywhere. He was doing exactly what he was asked to do. For me and for many Americans across this country need to know is this current administration does not follow the laws or process that are set forth for humanitarian causes like this.”
In response to the case, ICE issued a statement to WXYZ Channel 7.
“In January 2011, an immigration judge ordered Mr. Median El Moustrah removed from the U.S.,” the statement read, “In December 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision of the immigration judge and dismissed Mr. El Moustrah’s appeal.
“Multiple subsequent appeals and motions to both the Board of Immigration Appeals and U.S. Circuit Court continued to affirm the immigration court’s original removal order, most recently in 2014, when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Mr. El Moustrah’s petition for review.”
The statement also said, “Since 2014, ICE has exercised prosecutorial discretion multiple times over the last five years to allow Mr. El Moustrah additional time to coordinate his return to Lebanon. Prior to his Nov. 12 arrest, Mr. El Moustrah had been previously allowed to remain free from custody while he made those arrangements. He will now remain in ICE custody pending his removal.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])