Dear Friends, Family, and Supporters,
We’re asking for your help to support Ahmad,* a CUNY IRAP Special Immigrant Visa client from Baghdad, Iraq. CUNY IRAP first learned of the potential Executive Order barring entry to the U.S. of otherwise valid visa holders the evening of Tuesday, January 24. We immediately reached out to Ahmad and his family, who--after waiting for two and a half years--were granted visas in December 2016 because Ahmad’s life had been threatened as a result of his faithful service to the U.S. military as a Network Administrator on military bases during the Iraq War. A bomb had been placed in the family’s generator by terrorists, targeting Ahmad because of his affiliation with the U.S. We had been waiting for the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to book their travel to the U.S., which was expected to happen within a few weeks.
With news of the pending Order, CUNY IRAP informed Ahmad that we would help his family travel to the U.S. immediately, hoping to have them arrive before the Order was signed. When we spoke to them at 6:30 am EST on Wednesday, January 25, the family enthusiastically agreed that we should quickly book their flights, even knowing that they risked being detained or sent back to Iraq. They had four hours to pack all of their belongings, call their families, and clear out of their home. They successfully boarded their flight and began their journey to the U.S.
At the time we didn't know whether or not they'd be detained when they landed, since draft versions of the Order were already being circulated. They arrived to JFK on Thursday, January 26 and got through Customs without incident since they arrived before the Order was signed the next day.
The family has been staying in a New York hotel booked by the legal team as we arrange emergency resettlement plans. However, trouble for the family struck again on Saturday, January 28. They were pickpocketed in Times Square while shopping for warm clothes for their infant son, losing $3,200--all of their available American currency.
We are asking you to contribute anything you can to support the family’s transition to the U.S. Ahmad and his family first applied for their Special Immigrant Visas in September 2014 and have waited for 2.5 years to live out their dream of coming to the United States. In addition to covering expenses already incurred such as plane tickets and hotels, this money would go directly to the client to support their stability in their new home.
CUNY School of Law | International Refugee Assistance Project
*Name changed to protect client’s identity.
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In response to GoFundMe's request for additional details, here is an addendum:
1. Who we are: CUNY IRAP is a chapter of the International Refugee Assistance Project based at CUNY School of Law. The individual who began this page, Katy Naples-Mitchell, is a third year law student at CUNY and one of the chapter's co-directors.
2. Where we're from: the law school is based in Long Island City, NY.
3. Our relationship to the parties we're raising funds for: We are the legal team that represented these clients in their Special Immigrant Visa applications for the past two-and-a-half years.
4. How the funds will be spent: the funds will be spent to reimburse the legal team for the emergency expenses of flights and hotels for the clients' resettlement; all remaining funds - the vast majority of the money - will be given directly to the clients for beginning their life in the U.S., including to purchase a car, pay rent, and support their infant child.
5. How we intend to get the funds to those in need: we are in regular communication with our clients and hope to directly transfer their funds to a U.S.-based account once we've helped them set one up.