As Walid Ghounem an Egyptian father of 3 is deported we join him and his family on their way to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration.
30 year-old Walid Ghounem has been forced to leave America his home for nine years and his wife Anna, his three children Aly (6), Nadia (3) and Lyla (1). He reported to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration office in St Louis this morning with only one bag-the last nine years of his life-not allowed to weigh more than 44 pounds. His family was not told what flight he would take and what airport he would be flown out of.
The U.S. government says he submitted phony records eights years ago when he first applied for citizenship. Ghounem says he paid a lawyer $2,000 to do the paperwork and didn’t know what he was signing. His most recent crime? Not reporting for an appeal hearing on the 26th of June this year. He got a letter from BCIS three days after that date had passed and it was postmarked the date he was supposed to be in court for his appeal hearing.
Since 9-11, the government has become more aggressive in his case, detaining him twice and ordering him to leave the country. On the 26th of April when he went to register with the BCIS to fulfill his obligation as a citizen of Egypt-one of 26, mostly Muslim countries that have been identified as potential terror threats-and whose citizens have been asked to register and then often deported en-masse in the last six months.
Ghounem who worked in a warehouse lost his job. American Airlines laid off his wife — an American citizen — and his family had been on welfare for some time now. His case is still under review but Walid has been deported.
Information on special registrations for Muslims in America and other controversial guidelines is constrantly posted on the BCIS website. BCIS was formerly known as the Immigration and Natualization Service, it now forms part of the Department of Homeland Security.
- * “Lest We Forget”* — Exclusive to Democracy Now! a clip from a documentary film on post 9-11 immigration and deportation in America by 25 year old New York filmmaker Jason Da Silva. Narration is provided by Suheir Hammad.
- Walid Ghounem, speaking from St Louis Missouri where he is scheduled to be deported in less than an hour from now.
- Anna Ghounem, Walid Ghounem’s wife. She and their children are not being told any detail on how Walid is being sent back.
- Aarti Shahani of Families for Freedom in New York and actively engages in deportation and immigration work with communities across the US.