‘I don’t want my father to die’: Dearborn Heights woman pleas for ICE to halt deportation 

Protest to stop the deportation of Median El Moustrah | Michigan United photo

On the day before Thanksgiving, Mariam Charara received a call from her lawyer, who told her that despite her father’s dire health, he will be deported back to Lebanon.

Median El-Moustrah, Charara’s father, has been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody since Nov. 12. El-Moustrah is living with liver damage, hepatitis B, diabetes and hearing loss. His doctor recommended that he is evaluated for a liver transplant.

Median El Moustrah (top center) | Michigan United photo

He was permitted to come to the United States in 1993, where he has lived ever since and raised his three children. He got his green card after he married an American, but they divorced soon after and he remarried. 

El-Moustrah tried to extend his green card in 2007, but ICE wrongly accused him of marriage fraud for his first union when he could not remember their wedding anniversary. Hi ex-wife provided a sworn affidavit which explained the legitimacy of their marriage and described the circumstances of their divorce.

El-Moustrah’s attorney filed for reconsideration of the last request for a stay of deportation under humanitarian grounds. But ICE rejected the requested and said his removal is “… an ICE civil immigration enforcement priority.”

Mariam Charara | Michigan United photo

“I don’t want my father to die,” Charara said during a protest in front of her house in Dearborn Heights today. “You have the power to save his life. He is not a flight risk. He has made good faith efforts to comply with all requests asked of him.”

To help protect her father, Charara submitted letters to ICE from both U.S. and Lebanese doctors, stating that her father is not in a condition safe enough to fly and will not receive the health care he needs if deported, especially during the current government shutdown in Lebanon . 

ICE hired a third party to evaluate El-Moustrah’s health and concluded that he is healthy enough to fly back to Lebanon. 

The President Trump administration has embarked on aggressive deportation policies. A number of immigrants have been deported under unsafe circumstances or unstable health conditions. 

Jimmy Aldaoud, a man who had lived in metro Detroit for most of his life, was deported to Iraq this summer and died shortly thereafter when he couldn’t receive insulin for his diabetes. 

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U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) attended the protest outside Charara’s home. 

“ICE must recognize Mr. El-Moustrah’s very serious health concerns. We have seen members in our community, like Mr. Jimmy Aldaoud be deported to their death and we refuse to let that happen again,” said Tlaib. “After two hearings on medical deferment in Congress, it is clear that the process is being ignored. This father will die if he is deported and our own government is ignoring that fact.”

Allison Donahue
Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues, LGBTQ issues and immigration. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.