Today is a big day for Sam Hamama, a Chaldean Christian who has lived in Michigan for 40 years with his wife and four children, and whom the Trump administration wants to deport to Iraq where he likely would be persecuted, tortured or killed. The federal Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is hearing arguments in our case to decide whether the administration can deport Hamama — as well as some 1,400 other Iraqi Americans — without giving them a chance for an immigration judge to consider the danger they face in Iraq. Today is also a big day for Hilal Alkateeb, a fellow Michigan resident and US citizen, whose Yemeni wife was barred from joining him in the US under the administration’s Muslim ban, the constitutionality of which is before the US Supreme Court this morning.
Hamama and Alkateeb’s lives, and their legal cases, are inextricably linked. Hamama faces danger in Iraq because he is Christian. But his life hangs in the balance in a Cincinnati courtroom today because of the Muslim ban, and specifically the administration’s efforts to paper over the fact that the Muslim ban was intended to harm families like Alkateeb’s. That effort to hide the Muslim ban’s true purpose is exactly the issue before the Supreme Court in Washington.
The link between Hamama and Alkateeb was born on the campaign trail when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” A week after the inauguration, he delivered, issuing Muslim ban 1.0, an executive order that enshrined anti-Muslim bigotry into national policy by barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries including Iraq, and suspending refugee admissions, with an exception for Christian refugees.
Alkateeb’s family was among the thousands affected. Alkateeb met his wife, Rim, in Yemen. They married and had a…