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Jordanian Teen Detained In Chicago After Being Held 48 Hours In Houston Airport

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 1, 2017 5:10PM

Photo: Tyler LaRiviere

A 16-year-old boy, who lives in Texas and flew there over the weekend on a Jordanian passport, is being held in a Chicago detention shelter.

Mohammad Abu Khadra, a resident of Katy, Texas, near Houston, was detained on Saturday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport after traveling from Jordan, where he was renewing his visa. Mohammad was kept for more than 48 hours at the airport before being taken to the shelter in Chicago, where he reportedly remains. Including time in the airport and the Chicago facility, Wednesday is the fifth consecutive day in which the boy has been detained.

Lawyers representing Khadra’s family said they do not know why the boy was detained. Jordan is not on the list of banned countries under Trump’s executive order; and Khadra is also a legal resident of the United States, holding a visitor’s visa, attorneys told the Tribune.

“Our first priority at this stage is to get him released, and get him united with his family,” said attorney Alia Zakaria, who is representing Mohammed’s brother, Rami, who also lives in Texas and holds a green card, according to Citylab.

Even though Jordan is not on the barred list, the legal team thinks there is a connection between Khadra’s days-long, ongoing detention and the executive action. “[M]y discussions with other attorneys around the country leaves me to believe that Customs and Border Protection at the airport is pulling all Muslim travelers, even those not from the seven listed countries, for secondary inspection and questioning them and reviewing their documents for three to nine hours," Zakaria told the Tribune.

It could take up to five days of request processing for counsel to get in contact with the boy. Zakaria hopes to see Mohammad out of the detention facility within two weeks.

This isn’t the first case of a person with Jordanian ties being caught up in the immigration sweep. On Sunday, Yahya Romman, a Syrian man with a Jordanian passport not allowed entry after he arrived at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Mass confusion and protests overtook many of the nation's airport over the weekend, including O'Hare following Trump's suspension of the refugee program and strict restrictions on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Chicagoist has reached out the brother's lawyers and the Department of Health and Human Services. This post will be updated as necessary.