“Growing up, my dad, Sam always taught us to trust in God’s plan, especially in times when we don’t understand what God has planned for us. My parents taught my siblings and I to place all of our trust in God and know that He will get us through dark times. That lesson was tested when ICE agents pounded on our door at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning as we were getting ready to go to Mass. The agents said that they were doing a house check. They then said that they just needed my dad to come in and be interviewed by the Iraqi consulate. They promised that he would be back the next day. The agents even told my mom to expect a phone call the next day when she could come pick him up. My dad and I looked at each other, and we knew they were lying to us. Thankfully, he got to hug and kiss each of us goodbye, and I gave him a rosary I had near me. The rosary seemed to be the only weapon of defense I could offer my dad as he left our home.
I later found out that on that same morning, Sunday, June 11, immigration officials detained at least 100 other Chaldeans (Iraqi Christians) in the Detroit area with the intention of deporting them to Iraq. Many people were going about their normal Sunday morning routine: getting breakfast, sleeping in, or getting ready to go to Sunday Mass…just as my father was.
My dad came to the United States legally when he was only 4 years old. He made a mistake over 30 years ago when, following a road rage incident, he was found to be in possession of a gun for which he was not registered. Although the gun was not loaded, he paid his debt to society by going to prison, and he has had no further arrests or convictions since. He repented for his wrongdoing, married my mother, Nahrain, and had four kids. He took full advantage of his fresh start, and built our family with Christ as the foundation. Due to my dad’s hard work as a business owner, our family was, until now, living the American Dream. My dad does not know the language in Iraq, and he has a tattoo of a cross on his wrist; sending him back to Iraq is essentially a death sentence.
Growing up, my dad instilled in us to always go out of our way to help people. Even my friends know that my dad always loves to make people happy. I remember when one of my friends mentioned that we loved Brownie Brittle. When I came home from college to visit, I noticed that my dad bought us an entire case of Brownie Brittle! My friend and I were in brownie heaven! We can’t mention that we like something in front of my dad because he is so generous that he would buy us a whole case of it! My dad is the type of person who would give someone the shirt off his back…a trait that my siblings and I try to emulate.
Before my dad left that Sunday, he asked me to take care of my mom and my three younger siblings: Christopher, Lauren, and Lindsey. I am a junior at the University of Michigan, and I am currently taking my final exams. Trying to balance studying while also being the backbone of our household has been tough; however, we are blessed to be a part of an amazing community filled with family and friends who have been nothing but supportive in these dark times. We are reminded of Saint Paul’s teachings of being part of one body of Christ. We pray fervently for my dad to come home, but we also know that we are one family among hundreds who are hurting in this way. We are all hurting, and our community hurts with us.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of my father and all the other Chaldeans who were detained in early June. The lawsuit argues that people cannot be sent to a country where they could be the target of genocide. So far, the judge has placed a two-week restraining order that keeps the detainees here while the judge is further reviewing the case. Please pray for the lawyers and politicians as well as the judge who will be hearing our case. We know that the power of prayer is immeasurable and we rely on them.
During these dark times, my family has leaned on the Lord. I know God brings us out of darkness, and we pray my dad will come home. My dad has always told us to trust in God and everything will be okay. Even now, my dad’s faith has not faltered. When he calls he reminds us that everything will be ok and not to lose faith and trust in God. He reminds us to appreciate everything we have, especially the little things. He continues to tell us to be strong and how much he loves us. Our family members, friends, and especially our church community have been the greatest support we could ask for. My family and I cannot go anywhere without someone coming up to us and letting us know that our dad is in their prayers. The one thing that has been getting me and my family through this all has been the power of prayer. I know that the rosary my dad has with him right now is the reason he is still in Michigan. I know that going to the grotto at our church at least once a day with my siblings has brought comfort and peace to the situation we are going through. I know God is with our family, and all the other families right now, keeping us strong. I know He has not abandoned us. I know He has a plan, and although this has been a painful experience, we trust in God’s will.”
Written by his loving daughter, Britanny Hamama