[Pnews] Political activist Rasmea Odeh a symbol of deportation's many faces - Deported to Jordan

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 20 14:38:11 EDT 2017


  Political activist Rasmea Odeh a symbol of deportation's many faces

Maudlyne Ihejirika 09/20/2017

Rasmea Odeh was deported Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Palestinian immigrant, whose U.S. citizenship was 
revoked by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for not disclosing having 
served time as a prisoner in Israel, didn’t cry until the end, only 
after ICE refused her huge crowd of supporters entry into the airport.

Before that, Odeh was staunchly defiant, the etched lines of her set 
countenance only occasionally twitching during a three-hour O’Hare 
Airport send-off for the political activist who became symbolic of a 
cause — Palestine liberation — her case gaining notoriety worldwide.

“Up until this very moment, I didn’t believe they will throw me out of 
the place I’ve spent over 23 years, separate me from the people whom I 
love and they love me,” she said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.

“How can I express how I am feeling? I don’t want to understand that 
this is my last day in the U.S. I don’t want to believe that,” she said.

Odeh has waged a four-year legal battle to stay in the U.S. since her 
immigration case began in October 2013. She was indicted for failing to 
disclose she was convicted in 1969 of participating in a deadly 
terrorist bombing in Jerusalem, served 10 years, and was released in a 
prisoner exchange in 1979.

Odeh and her supporters have maintained her confession was a false one 
extracted under torture. Her conviction for immigration fraud in U.S. 
District Court was overturned on appeal, with a new trial set for May 2017.

In April, seeing the writing on the wall from the new administration’s 
crackdown, she entered into a plea agreement to give up the citizenship 
she’s held since 2004.

Her battle had become a cause celebre among Palestinians and Arab 
supporters here and abroad and members of the organization Jewish Voices 
for Peace, hatching the hashtag #Justice4Rasmea.

“For the past month, I haven’t been able to sleep at night, just crying 
all the time,” Odeh said, chatting as she packed to head for the airport 
and a plane bound for Jordan, where she has no home or family.

“Jordan was not my choice. It was the passport they said they will give 
me when I get to the airport,” she said. “I used to have people in 
Jordan, but it’s been years. I don’t know who’s there, what’s there. 
I’ll have to find and make a place for myself in my community, which is 
not easy at my age, rebuilding a life at 70 years old?”

Odeh wasn’t interested in rehashing the facts of her case on Tuesday.

“What’s the point?” she said. “This is unjust, inhuman. I feel for every 
immigrant that will go through this in America. No words for this pain.”

Odeh is just one face of the Trump administration’s tougher stance on 
illegal immigration, a crackdown that has played out in high profile 
cases such as that of 67-year-old Berwyn grandmother Genoveva Ramirez, 
ordered to leave by October due to an expired visa.

Ramirez and several other immigrants similarly facing immediate 
deportation have filed lawsuits against ICE, advocates announced 
Tuesday. But it is too late for Odeh, who has lived in the U.S. 23 years.

Last month, a standing room only crowd of over 1,200 supporters attended 
a North Side event honoring her, keynoted by Angela Davis, the scholar 
and Black Liberation Movement legend who cut short her vacation to attend.

“I got my first visa in 1988, my green card in 1994, my citizenship in 
2004. In all those years, I’ve been a good citizen. I’ve helped my 
community,” Odeh said. “It’s why I feel angry. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

She was accompanied by about 100 of her family, closest friends and 
supporters at O’Hare, who held a two-hour rally outside the 
International Terminal — as police and federal marshals stood by — 
followed by hugs and many tears. Intending to see her to the security 
line, they were blocked at the terminal’s entry. It’s when Odeh cried.

Marshals then took Odeh away from the handful of folks who were 
accompanying her on the flight to Jordan, processed her and brought her 
back out. Accompanied by the marshals and police, she then checked in 
her mountain of suitcases for her flight.

One marshal stayed close. He would be accompanying her on the flight, 
ensuring she reached Jordan. And when all was said and done, Odeh took 
one last look at the U.S., held her head up high, and walked through 

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