BOSTON (WWLP) – After a four year legal struggle, a local man who came to the U.S. over 40 years ago was awarded permanent legal status by an immigration court.
Niberd Abdalla came to the U.S from Iraq on a student visa. His wife and son are both American citizens and they were living in the Northampton area. He had been reporting to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly for several years when he was detained and jailed by ICE in 2017.
Abdalla received support from western Massachusetts community members and advocates during his detention, including a rally in which 250 people demonstrated in front of Northampton City Hall to call for his release. The ACLU of Massachusetts secured his release from incarceration in late January 2018, after almost eight months in ICE detention.
In July 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the administrative body that determines appeals from immigration courts, granted Abdalla’s motion to reopen his case. Wednesday the immigration court ruled in his favor, allowing Adballa to remain legally and permanently in the United States with his family without fear of deportation.
“I really can’t put into the words the overwhelming feeling that yesterday’s court victory brought,” said Niberd Abdalla. “We can just be what we were meant to be from the very beginning: a happy family. I am so humbled by the number of people who cared so much about one man’s struggle just to stay here and to live. All the people who went out of their way to make this happen, the attorneys, the ACLU, the folks who broadcast it and put it in the papers, those who came to the rallies, children who wrote to me while incarcerated, and the religious leaders who comforted us. We have been blessed, and we only hope that we can somehow continue to share that good with those around me.”
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“We are so delighted for Mr. Abdalla and his family,” said Bill Newman, an attorney in the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Western Regional Office. “Across the country, millions of other families can’t wait. Congress must pass legislation to create a path to citizenship, and Massachusetts must do all it can to keep families together, regardless of immigration status.”