Two Palestinian brothers were deported to Egypt by the US government despite their stateless status, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee stated today:
The brothers, originally from Gaza, were taken by ICE and the U.S. Air Marshalls from their children in Texas and sent to Egypt. The brothers do not have permission to stay in Egypt. Further, due to the blockade of Gaza and Israeli polices they cannot enter Palestine. The brothers are currently detained at the airport in Cairo, and appear likely to be detained indefinitely.
Movement in and out of Gaza has been severely restricted for years and Palestinians do not have control of the borders of their country; all of the land of historic Palestine is under the control of the Israeli apartheid government, aided and abetted by the US. Gaza has also endured five years of Israeli blockade, impacting all areas of life — a policy supported by the US government. Gaza also has yet to be rebuilt after Israel’s three weeks of attacks in the winter of 2008-09 — attacks that killed 1,400 Palestinians who had nowhere to flee, attacks which decimated civilian infrastructure and targeted schools and places of worship, and which were perpetrated with US-supplied weaponry.
Meanwhile, Palestinians advocating for their national rights in the US have been persecuted.
For example, Dr. Sami al-Arian is a stateless Palestinian who has lived in the US for more than 30 years and has been targeted for his political activity. He is under house arrest, awaiting deportation. His daughter, journalist Laila al-Arian, told The Electronic Intifada in 2010:
“…we really hope that there will be a country that will open its doors to a persecuted political prisoner and a victim of the Bush administration, a victim of a wave of anti-Palestinian activism. It’s mind-boggling that in the 21st century, there is a group of people who don’t have a country. Hopefully someone will be able to adopt him. It’s one more battle we have to fight.”
The ADC’s full statement follows:
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) expresses great concern and extreme disappointment over a decision made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deport two Palestinian nationals whom are deemed stateless. The brothers, originally from Gaza, were taken by ICE and the U.S. Air Marshalls from their children in Texas and sent to Egypt. The brothers do not have permission to stay in Egypt. Further, due to the blockade of Gaza and Israeli polices they cannot enter Palestine. The brothers are currently detained at the airport in Cairo, and appear likely to be detained indefinitely.
Earlier this year ADC, along with the Asylum and Human Rights (AHR) program of the Boston University School of Law, filed a FOIA Request with DHS seeking information about procedures and policies pertaining to stateless individuals. The AHR program of Boston University School of Law has been representing one of the brothers for many years. The AHR program’s client had unsuccessfully sought entry in over 40 countries while he was detained by DHS in the U.S. When it was obvious that, due to his statelessness, no country would accept him, he was ordered released pursuant to a habeas petition filed by the AHR program. After three years of attempts to get DHS’s assistance in removing him to Jordan to reunite with his wife, he was suddenly picked up, handcuffed, and removed to Egypt with no notification to his counsel. DHS and ICE have refused to respond to inquiries about the fate of these two brothers. At last update neither brother is being allowed to exit the airport and enter into Egypt.
ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub expressed “extreme disappointment at the actions of DHS. The actions of DHS and ICE are alarming, troubling, and intolerable. ADC has demanded, and will continue to demand, a clear explanation as to why these brothers were deported. The U.S. government is very well aware of the deplorable living conditions in Gaza resulting from an illegal blockade. It leaves one to wonder what exactly ICE officials know about the situation on the ground. If ICE officials have information about the border crossing that State Department and other diplomatic posts do not have then we urge DHS and ICE to share this information publicly. They must provide a clear explanation as to why these men have been put in this position. Furthermore, if the U.S. Government finds that it could begin deporting individuals back to Palestine then ADC calls for an immediate end to the blockade in Gaza and to the travel restrictions imposed by illegal Israeli settlements and activities.”
The Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954 defines a stateless person as one who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.” Palestinians are one of the largest groups of stateless peoples. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with the U.S. State Department, does not recognize Palestinian Authority Passports or Travel Documents as proof of citizenship, hence deeming Palestinians who carry these documents stateless. The U.S. considers Palestinians stateless even when they have Jordanian or Egyptian travel documents (laissez-passer). DHS deportation decisions such as this reflect an indifference to the harsh reality of the situation for the large number of stateless Palestinians in the U.S. If this decision is an example of future determinations regarding stateless Palestinians, the outlook of their already bleak situation only becomes worse. ADC has been diligently working on this situation and it is our sincere hope that DHS will join in the effort to create a durable solution to this issue.