January 29th, 2009
09:08 AM ET

Parents of 6 face deportation

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

"Please help us, there is no country greater than this country," is Mohammad Mohammad's plea to the American people. That's his message spoken by cell phone to me as the handyman drove from Alabama to Louisiana to pick up his wife and 18-year-old son, Imad, from an immigration detention center. Federal officials have declared all three illegal immigrants. All three, who have no passports, no traveling documents, are now worried they will be deported.

But the case gets more complicated because Mohammad and his wife, Sana Alsayed have five other children, ages 5, 6, 13, 14 and 17. They were born in the U.S. They are 5 U.S. citizens. And they could remain in the country while their oldest sibling and parents do not.

Mohammad is a Palestinian. He has been in America for 15 years. Mohammad does not understand why the country he loves would drive him out. "I pay taxes for 15 years," he implores. "And I don't have any felonies or any crimes, nothing for 15 years. We respect the law."

That doesn't change the facts. According to his attorney, Mohammad, Sana, and Imad, who was toddler at the time, left Saudi Arabia for the U.S. in 1993. After arriving on a visitor visa, the family petitioned for asylum, but were denied. If deported, Mohammad says he has no place to go to. As for the five children? Mohammad claims an immigration officer told him "don't worry about your kids. we can take care of them here."

The Birmingham News reports that a Republican congressman, Spencer Bachus, is asking for an inquiry.

The lawyer for Mohammad, Douglas Cooner, says he will file a new asylum claim, hoping a court will agree that the circumstances for the family have changed, specifically that the government had 90-days to remove them, but waited nine years before taking action.

Cooner goes one step further when talking about Imad, who before being arrested, was enrolled at a community college. "The oldest son has been here since he is two-years-old,"Cooner says. "He doesn't speak Arabic and was a star athlete in high school."

Mohammad is hopeful he will win his case and that the family of will be together, saying "I brought my kids over here because this is the best place to live in the world. This is the safest place, the safest environment, that's why I came here."

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Filed under: Gabe Falcon • Immigration • Raw Politics
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Lindsay

    This is a sore issue. It make one ponder the line between law and humanity. I know someone who did not have a choice and is currently living in misery. She came here at 15 with a visiting visa. Naive as she was, she was told by her parents she was to visit with family for the summer and come home. When she got here, she was promised a better life and her parents at home called and encouraged her to stay. Now, none of here papers were processed and everything she has expired. What do you make of this? she claims that she can't work, she can't transfer and continue with school, she is STUCK. But she's been here for almost 8 years, loves it completely, has high ambition and goals, but she is STUCK. What does she do? i am all for law, and doing the right thing, waiting your turn, but in this case what does a person do? Where is that compassion the law provides in cases like this?

    January 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Ada

    This land belonged to American Indians, and. I'm glad they did not set many laws for our ancestors to SHARE THEIR land that we stole from them and sent them to the dessert where they couldn't live off the land. HAVE WE FORGOTTEN THIS?

    We have NO CLUE on what our ancestors went through and/or if they were legal or illigaly in this country. If you were born in the US, you were blessed because of the COURAGE your family took for a better opportunity for you. Families should remain together –

    January 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  3. sandee

    While I feel for this family and appreciate the fact that they supported themselves while here, if we ignore the law here how can we enforce it against the "drug dealers" or illegals that won't work, won't pay taxes but use up many of the systems set up to help AMERICANS. And for those you who keep mentioning that we're all immigrants... yes you are correct but unless your family was on the Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria, they went through the immigration process also. This country spends billons supporting the children of illegal immigrants, maybe we could help our own with those services. Maybe if we stopped the giveaways, people in these countries will start to make changes in their own country.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  4. Tracie

    People do not realize what you have to go through with immigration just to get a simple question answered. I don't think it's fair what they make some people go through. Maybe they should check out these people before they let them pay taxes. How about that. No, of course they wouldn't do that. Do you know that if you are not an american citizen, that you have to get a permission to work card from the INS at a cost of $420.00 for one year. Isn't that something. You can't get a job with the card, and you can't get the card without a job to pay the $420.00. Isn't that something.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  5. Amy

    Deport him!! who cares. stupid people coming here illegally and then complaining when it catches up to them.. hes been paying taxes??? so he stole someone SS#!! how is he working legally when he has no papers??? im sure that is a lie these people need to learn to file the correct paperwork and wait just like people should!!!

    January 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  6. Nick from FL

    All of you people who think this family should be deported are out your minds....Remember we are all immigrants in this country!! He paid his taxex for 15 years, will the government give him back his taxes and social security? I do hope president Obama do something soon about this situation it is all too common.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  7. Jeanette

    I am so tired of people saying we are all from immigrants. WHY ARE THEY MISSING THE ILLEGAL WORD?????
    12:08 pm ET. AS Larry said

    "Any illegal alien, who has broken the law by entering this country and stealing citizenship for their children should be deported with their children and citizenship revoked for the children that was stolen by the parents due to their illegal status. Just a few actions like this will stop the illegal immigration cold."

    In my opinion any child born in this country by illegal aliens should not be automatically an American. This is a big mistake our country has been doing for years and also encourages illegals to come here.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  8. Andrea

    you know what who cares if there are bigger things to worry about its the law, you come here and have 5 kids without being legal here its a chance your taking. How is he working and paying taxes while being an illegal alien? Its not lets make an exception for you and you but not you. Its the law!

    January 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  9. Wander

    I'm sorry this is happening to your family. I think this nation has forgotten that family is the most important thing. So many children are already forgotten, beaten, murdered for selfishness of adults. I applaud you for trying to raise them in a safe place. I bet in the city you live in there are child rapist, murderers, drug dealers walking the streets and if not they are in jail where we pay for them to sit on their butts!!!! why not trade them for your family and send them away. let those type of people know the meaning of suffering and trying to make a living in another country where things aren't taken for granted. murderers and wrong doers are punished immediately and to death in some places. they serve no purpose in any community and don't deserve opportunities. what good are they doing our nation to begin with? if more were punished, then they would be examples to others that crime doesn't pay at all. I pray that your family will stay together in this country and your children understand the importance of your family and setting examples to do the right thing in every aspect of their lives.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  10. Legal Immigrant

    If he has 5 kids he might be paying taxes, but after his credits and deductions he will be getting more back than he puts in, but that is not the point. He knowingly broke the law, calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant is like calling a bank robbery an undocumented withdrawl.
    Failure to enforce our immigration laws causes these problems, if he had been tracked down and deported 15 years ago, his children would not have been impacted.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  11. My Voice

    I think that the people that need to be deported are the ones that dont work– that rape people– sell drugs– live off OUR hard work.. not a hard working father and mother trying to better the lives of their young LEGAL children with no criminal record whatsoever.. and it is not fair at all that those kids, because their parents tried to better their lives they have to suffer.. left alone with strangers possibly even split up from eachother– the only family they know. I think its wrong.

    and yes, I am an american citizen

    January 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  12. cc

    we do not go to other countries illegally, we do not break rules in other countries. And if we did we would be arrested and deported in a heart beat. So why should we allow this to happen in our own country? I am so sick of having to worry about everyone else's hardships in other countries. what about ours? We are struggling right now. We can not afford to take on more people, non-tax payers and people who will not obey by our legal system. It is not excepted anywhere else. And above that we now hoave to be sensitive to their religious beliefs when they do not respect ours.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  13. Rosie from the west

    Now would we all have so much compassion for that family if they were Mexican? In case all of you already forgot, this is happening every single day to Latino families all over the country. Many that are in that same family situation as well. So the question her is should we let him stay? and if we do then why can't the other's stay too? This great country is built on immigrants! So now why are we fighting so hard to keep them out. I feel we can't say yes to him but no to her if one goes they ALL go. I don't think the answer is to break up a family but laws are laws and either they're held in place or they are modified for the benefit of the immigrants (whether they're illegal or not )in this country!

    January 29, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Deport the children as well. This way their family can be united. It's just not right that someone who comes in illegally, then bears children and all of a sudden they become legal US citizens. And now that the parents have to leave, we have to use tax payer's money to support these children? What would happen if all those that are here illegally were to mass produce and then be deported?

    January 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  15. hrdtail

    As the saying goes, "If you can't do the 'time', then you shouldn't do the crime". They broke the law, they should pay the consequences. To do otherwise just encourages others to do the same.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  16. denny Jr

    Deport them. The law is the law NO one is above it. They are illegaly here no room for interpretation. I as a Tax payer DONT care they lied and are criminals. You cannot sugar coat the fact they are not supose to be in this country.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  17. Tanya

    You know, stories like this always make me feel bad. I don't understand how we can be so cold as Americans, when ALL of us are decendants of immigrants to this land. The only true Americans are the Native Americans that have been relegated to live on reservations. If you're not Native American, then your family came here as immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and so on. They came here for a better way of live for their family, how can we now turn around and say no to others who want the same opportunity for their familes. It just makes me sad, I think its very selfish & hypocritical of us.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  18. DAVE

    Oh well. I am tired of seeing the law tossed to the side just to make someone feel good. If you didn't enter legal then good by. And this BS that you were born here makes you a US citizen is a crock of Bull. The constitution does not states this. Deport them all and let them duke it out with the Jews.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  19. JessK

    I feel really bad for the man and his family, I'm really torn. On one hand, he's here illegally, on the other, the US, who had the opportunity to have them leave, didn't, for at least 14 years. I understand what Nancy is saying, I married at 22 to a guy from Paraguay, after he told me he was divorced there. Turns out, a year later I find out he was NOT divorced, and was staying with his wife and two kids down there. Naive? Sure. But, I thought that I was doing what was right for me and my son. Nope. The examples told here are just some of what can happen when people are here illegally. It affects more than just them.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  20. Larry

    Any illegal alien, who has broken the law by entering this country and stealing citizenship for their children should be deported with their children and citizenship revoked for the children that was stolen by the parents due to their illegal status. Just a few actions like this will stop the illegal immigration cold.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  21. Isis

    my mother is going through the same situation but my mother became resident and she brough my sisters and me legally and that was almost twenty years ago and she had her ss and everything now because she mess a court heairng 15 years ago they wont renew her citizenship and like those people my mom has no convictions, pays her taxes and on top of that I am in the Air force reserves my sisters are both getting their dergree in nursing and one of the is a army vet. what is worse they told my mom that we didnt deserve our citizenships because all the mess. I am so tier of this people alway picking on the wrong people specially that ones who work hard to be in this country

    January 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  22. Cheryl

    It's easy to say "They should have entered legally", but a family I know went through the system and waited until they were approved to enter the U.S. It took 21 years...and by that time their three children were young adults and the U.S. would not allow them to enter with their parents. So their dreams of raising their family in the golden land of opportunity were crushed. It is not easy to gain the approval of the U.S. to enter this country...a lot depends on which country you are leaving. And this article clearly says Mohammad and his family entered on a visitor visa; so they entered legally.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  23. Niah from the westcoast

    Comment Back to Nancy, youre just bitter, sorry your marriage skd! the little one's didn't choose their father, its hard for a single woman raise 6 kids on your own with the way the economy is I wish you luck because it is tough, & that's no reason to deport someone back just because their not contributing to this country. Hopefully Obama can help us all. Going back to the main topic. The family should get a second chance, maybe file for I-9, or something. Remember we are all minorities & Immigrants!

    January 29, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  24. Jaan

    They are in the country illegally. They should be deported. The system only works if it is supported by the citizens.
    If he was from Mexico would you have the same reaction?

    No one will make his American kids stay here without their parents. They are free to travel, they will just need passports and visas.

    When you choose the behavior you also choose the consequences. Being deported is what happens to people who are here illegally.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  25. Jose E. Tejeda

    Becoming an American is a wonderful thing. You move right to the front of the line. You become part of a family that is recognized where ever you go. I am angry when someone breaks our laws. But I will not be silent or pretend to be blind. I vote to keep the family together in the United States.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  26. Lisa

    The part I find most troubling is that they want to kick the parents and 1 son out for being illegal but as far as the other kids go, the immigration officer said "don’t worry about your kids. we can take care of them here.”... how does that make sense? you want the wage earner who is supporting these kids to be deported so that the kids can go where? into foster care? which would mean they would be being supported by taxpayer money....seriously?

    January 29, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  27. bk

    Okay we let child molesters out of jail and give them a second chance.
    Yet we are not going to let hard working people just trying to raise there family a second chance. What a bunch of haters out there it's easy to say what you would do but you are not in there shoes. I guess your just perfect.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  28. meenas17

    A deplorable state of affairs. But rule is a rule. if sympathy and empathy creep in , then there will be utter chaos.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  29. yolochka

    These people deserve to be granted asylum more than anybody. They are Palestinians who have been denied their home country. They have no place to go. Israel would not allow them to move to Israel or the occupied territories. Let them stay.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  30. bea.

    i dont think that both parents should be deported at least one parent should stay with the kids. he is a taxpayer just like anyone in this country he works too... not only immigrants steal from this country you know..

    January 29, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  31. bear

    Good deport all of them- why cant we deport all the mexicans too. this is getting out of hand- he should of done things the right way when he decided to move to the US. he brought this upon himself.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  32. Wendy

    Wow....it's very sad for the children. They are the real victims here...not mom and dad. The parents had a responsibility to do things the right way, and they chose not to. The media will demonize the USA with regards to immigration law enforcement, however the law is the law.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  33. jennifer

    "We respect the Law"? Apparently not enough. They had 15 years to make it right.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  34. Shelly

    I have to wonder why our money is being wasted going after people like this, but drug lords get over the border and into our streets to sell to our children with no problems! And then when someone does try to stop these drug cartels, DOING THEIR JOBS they are put into jail for it. What is this country coming to?

    January 29, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  35. Kimberli

    Unfortunately, when you overstay your visa, you run the risk of deportation. Whether in two weeks, three months, or fifteen years, the government has the responsibility to enforce the law and deport anyone who isn't here legally. We are a country of laws. Although this situation is sad, having a family and paying taxes doesn't negate the fact that his isn't supposed to be here. We can't just look the other way this one time. You break the law, you get punished. That's how it works. I'm glad he loves this country, but apparantly he didn't RESPECT it enough to obeys its laws. No one gets to pick and choose which laws apply to them. Not me, not him, not anyone. Mohammad made a choice and this is the consequence of that choice.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  36. Quirky

    I'm not saying that they didn't break the law. They did.

    HOWEVER, we have much much bigger fish to fry than to waste taxpayer dollars on deporting this harmless family. My brother is a DA and constantly has to send illegal (Mexicans) back over the border who abused their kids, had rapes, murders, and home invasions on their rap sheets. Then, there are many many many more US citizens guilt of the exact same crimes. But not enough room in the jails to keep child molestors there for life...

    Once EVERY LAST person selling drugs, robbing, and raping are dealt with then by all means, we should adress this family but NOT ONE SINGLE MINUTE before that.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  37. Malika

    Nancy you can't say he is contributing nothing. He is a tax payer. You don't need an SS to file taxes,you can get a tax payer id from the IRS for that purpose.

    What's more expensive? Going after him and getting him deported along with his wife and 18yr old son or having the other 5 kids in the welfare system until they turn 18?

    January 29, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  38. Whitey in DC

    I'm sure that this is a good family. But why should they get to stay here when they did everything the wrong way. They should have returned to their country and went through the legal process that thousands of other people have gone through to become US citizens. It's not fair to those people who waited their turn, paid the fees and were patient. Now, he's jepordized his five other children with returning to a place they never known and it will be all their parents fault. Send them back. All of them. We shouldn't have to take care of children because of their parents selfishness.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  39. Kay Marsh

    Deport them right back where they come from. Now if you escaped prison for a better life, and the feds catch up with you, what do you think they would do? OH! hold your hand and tell you you've been good for 15 years on the run and they gonna give you a free pass to freedom. Don't think so! Here in America, You break the law, you pay the price. Nobody told this man to have kids here just so he might have a free ticket to stay! Come on Americans, Lets get our Country BACK!!!

    January 29, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  40. alice

    If you enter this country illegally, then you should be deported. "NO EXCUSES"!

    January 29, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  41. Nancy

    My ex did not have a green card, but he had a SSN, worked and paid taxes. It doesn't change the fact that he was still here illegally. You can be working every day and not have any issues with the law, but it does not change the basic fact that you are STILL ILLEGAL!!! How many parents out there can use the help of reduced lunches at school but are just above the income level for it? Did you know that children of illegal immigrants qualify? Maybe if those kids were taken out of the equation, the program could help more of the people who are honest and still struggle although there are 2 working parents in the home? If you are here illegally, you should not get any of the benefits that being an American provides because you ARE NOT AN AMERICAN.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  42. ocumani

    "Illegal" defines itself. These are not "undocumented workers", these are ILLEGAL ALIENS. Try to do what they have done anywhere else in the world & see what the response will be. He also does not have to be seperated from his children, take them with you!

    January 29, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  43. Nancy

    You know, this topic is a sore subject for me. My ex-husband came here on a temp visa and ended up staying. I was 17 when we met, at 19 we married, at 21 I had our first child and by 23 we were divorced. During our marriage, I found that he had been involved in 2 fraudulent marriages prior to our marriage. I remember now (I was very naive then), that he sure was quick to get me to fill out the papers in order for him to get his green card. Due to the fraudulent marriages though, he never received the card during our marriage. It is now 12 years later and he is still here and in some sort of "student" program where he is going to college full time. Now he can't seem to pay his child support (he is already 15K in arrearages) because he quit his 2 jobs to be a full time student. Now he has summoned me to court to try to get his support reduced/suspended while he is on his own agenda to better himself. I applaud him in trying to better himself, but he should not be allowed to do it at the expense of his child. Everyone is struggling right now, we have a family of 6 and he thinks he has no obligation to care for his child. He NEEDS to be deported!!! He is contributing NOTHING to this country.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  44. bettye

    he works and pays taxes, but is he using somone else's ssn to work? he doesn't have any papers? no green card, so he doesn't have permission to work?? does he have his own ssn or is he causing someone else trouble every time they file taxes because he is working using their ssn and the earnings are reported to irs under that number. When that happens the numberholder is accused of under-reporting income and he or she has to prove they didn't earn the income.

    January 29, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  45. Donna

    It's easy to say what THEY should have done. If they could go back in time, (15 YEARS), and do it all different, I'm sure they would. It was a totally different world back then. These are the wrong kind of people to go after. I think the immigration officer who said not to worry about their kids should think about the prospect leaving behind his kids or someone close. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!

    January 29, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  46. Michael "C" Lorton,Virginia

    It is a sad tragedy--the children will probably remain-the parents will be deported-–the question is the morality-–but the laws are what will apply. It is the price ones pays for the choices they make.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  47. robyncaffrey keyser west virginia

    ( remember ) everybody get's a second chance.

    the commuinity service mentioned " could be in schools. yes we can"'

    January 29, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  48. Mike in NYC

    If you enter the US illegally, and then have children with the threat of deportation always hanging over your head, then don't complain when the law catches up to you and your family is separated.

    If you do the right thing and go the legal route, the family you eventually have will stay together. Invade the country - which is what illegals are doing - and you should pay the price. But then, you probably won't, so go ahead and invade.

    January 29, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  49. Bill Skeat

    We'll go after someone like this man and his famly–what a waste of taxpayer's money!

    January 29, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  50. Mike, Syracuse NY

    No doubt there will be a torrent of alligator tears over letting them stay. Illegal is illegal. The children can return when they are of age, and the parents can apply through proper channels to return. The Constitution needs to be changed so that children of illegal aliens born in the US are NOT automatic citizens. The anchor baby tactic is used as an excuse way too often.

    January 29, 2009 at 9:55 am |
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