By Rachel Vorona Cote for Jezebel.
Screengrab via ABC News.
A Somali woman and her two children were detained at Dulles Airport in Chantilly Virginia for 20 hours without food.
In an interview with ABC News, Najib Abi, a cousin of the family, explained that the family had flown from Kenya and arrived at Dulles at 8 a.m. yesterday. The children, although born in Kenya, possess U.S. passports. Their mother, however, is from Somalia — one of the countries named on Trump’s arbitrary immigration block list.
“They called the husband, he’s from Minnesota,” Abi explained to ABC, “They told him that you have to get your children because they’re U.S. citizens, but your wife we will deport to Africa — we’ll send her back to Africa today at 10 a.m. So if you don’t come by 10 a.m. we’ll deport her.”
In the meantime, the woman—thus far unnamed—was pressured to sign papers and told that her visa had been canceled. When she refused to sign, asking to wait until her husband arrived, immigration officers threatened that she would not be permitted to return to the United States. She was then told to sign her children’s paperwork so that they could accompany her back to Africa. Still, she demurred, emphasizing that she would do nothing until the family was reunited.
Based on Abi’s narrative, the officers grew increasingly aggressive at this point.
“They handcuffed her, even when she went to the bathroom,” he said.
Immigration then placed another call with the husband.
“They called her husband’s phone number, saying that we have your family here at the airport. You come and get your kids, otherwise all of them back to Africa.”
But thanks to the temporary stay granted by U.S. District Attorney Judge Ann Donnelly—after the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency lawsuit—the family will be permitted to reunite. They booked one more flight, this time to Minnesota.
Ultimately, Abi’s family was detained until 2 a.m., without food. They are still missing four out of seven pieces of luggage, but are understandably ready to get the fuck out of the airport, where they’ve been treated as criminals.
“Everything goes well right now,” says Abi, with a small smile.