White House: 5-Year-Old Iranian-American Boy Handcuffed, Detained for Hours at Dulles Was ‘Security Threat’
The 5-year-old American son of an Iranian woman was handcuffed and detained for hours without his mother at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia because he was deemed a “security threat,” according to the White House.
The Independent reports the unidentified child was returning from a visit to Iran to his home in Maryland when he was handcuffed and held for more than four hours. When pressed by reporters about the incident during a Tuesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the child’s detention.
“To assume that just because of someone’s age and gender that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong,” Spicer asserted, giving examples of Muslim child refugees who grew up to commit terrorism, like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Video footage published by the Independent shows the 5-year-old boy’s mother anxiously awaiting his release at Dulles and their emotional reunion. As onlookers cheered, the child’s visibly relieved mother hugged and kissed her son, singing “Happy Birthday” to him in English.
Iranians in the United States, including many American citizens and especially legal permanent US residents, or so-called green card holders, are reeling from Trump’s executive order banning refugees, immigrants and all travelers from seven majority Muslim nations — Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Libya — for 90 days or longer. The Trump administration initially said even green card holders would be subject to the ban but later walked back its statement — although permanent legal US residents and their lawyers report green card holders are still being detained and denied entry into the country.
Critics questioned the selection of the seven nations. While there have been no fatal terrorist attacks on US soil by people from those countries, other nations exempt from the ban are prolific exporters of terrorism — 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, while the other four terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans that day were all from exempted nations. President Trump has business ties to many of the countries waived from the ban, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The United States has also bombed all seven banned countries. “We bomb your country, creating a humanitarian nightmare, then lock you inside,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted in response to Trump’s directive. “That’s a horror movie, not a foreign policy.”
Iranian communities across America are scared and seething at Trump’s ban. “The vast majority of Iranians in Los Angeles have at least one family member, friend, and/or colleague who is a permanent resident, who travels abroad as a green card holder, who visits the United States to see loved ones, who is literally designated a resident or nonresident ‘alien’ by the United States government,” Arash Saedinia, 43, an Iranian American English professor and rights activist, told Al Jazeera.
“What’s worrying us is the sudden change without precedent,” a young man who asked to be called Dan, so as not to affect his citizenship status, added. “Over the past week, I haven’t even been able to concentrate on my work. Right now, I don’t know what my next move would be, but I’m considering leaving the country.”
“I feel like I don’t belong here anymore,” Kathy Schlosser, a Bay Area human resources executive and naturalized American who has lived in the US since her family fled Iran during the Islamic revolution in 1979, told Moral Low Ground. “I have lived in the US for 38 of my 47 years, and I am still treated like an outsider.”
“I work hard, pay taxes and am a good citizen, and yet when I voice my opinion, I am told to go back to where I came from if I don’t like it,” said Schlosser, who added that she left Iran “because I wanted freedom and came here just to be told to shut up.”
One silver lining, say some observers, is that the ban has brought less-religious and secular Iranians and Iranian-Americans together in solidarity with more devout Muslims from other nations adversely affected by the executive order. “All of these folks are cultural or marginally practicing Muslims now standing shoulder to shoulder with the practicing Muslim community from Iraq and scores of other Muslim communities in Southern California,” Shakeel Syed, spokesman for the newly formed Muslim-Latino Collaborative, told the Los Angeles Times.
Trump’s policies have also brought human rights and social justice advocates and activists from a variety of causes together to oppose what attorneys general from 16 states have blasted as an “unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful” executive order. “Last night’s protest was phenomenal. We saw black, brown and white people, young and old, hijabs and yarmulkes,” Saedina, who was on the front lines of last weekend’s demonstrations at Los Angeles International Airport, told Al Jazeera. “The crowd was as diverse as this city and so we know that the opposition to Trump’s order is widespread and vigorous.”