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CAIR to Seek Return of Double-Amputee Syrian Refugee Removed from U.S. Despite Valid Medical Visa

cair ca logo(ANAHEIM, CA, 5/5/16) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today called for the return to the United States of Morhaf Alkordi, a double-amputee Syrian refugee who was denied entry and forced to return to Europe less than 24 hours after landing at LAX.

Later today, CAIR-LA will hold a news conference at its Anaheim, Calif., headquarters with local family members of the refugee.

VIDEO: Morhaf Alkordi

WHAT: CAIR-LA to Hold News Conference for Double-Amputee Syrian Refugees Denied Entry to U.S.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 5, 1 p.m. (Pacific)

WHERE: CAIR-LA Office, 2180 W. Crescent Avenue, Suite F, Anaheim, CA

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714-776-1847, oahmad@cair.com

Alkordi, who has relatives in the Los Angeles area, arrived at LAX on May 3 on a medical visa. He was detained without an opportunity to contact his family. After his family contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), they were told Alkordi would be detained for an additional six hours. Ultimately, CBP placed Alkordi on a flight back to Berlin yesterday afternoon.

Alkordi lost both of his legs in July 2013 when a missile hit his pizza shop in Homs, Syria. He and his family were evacuated to Lebanon and were later sponsored by Germany. After several failed attempts to seek medical attention in Germany, his relatives in Los Angeles reached an agreement with the Hanger Clinic in Downey, Calif., to treat Alkordi free of charge. The estimated cost of that treatment is between $24,000 and $90,000 for prostheses and physical therapy. 

To secure his visa, Alkordi provided the U.S. Department of State with extensive documentation of his planned medical treatment and his desire to return to Germany to be with his pregnant wife following that treatment. Despite this documentation and the visa approval, CBP unilaterally concluded that Alkordi planned to stay in the country past the term of his visa.

“It is deeply distressing to see an individual who has undergone extensive vetting to obtain entry into the United States denied access to critical medical care because of CBP’s unsubstantiated assumptions about his intentions,†said CAIR-LA Immigration Rights Attorney Farida Chehata, who advised Alkordi’s family in Los Angeles throughout the visa application process. “I cannot imagine how Mr. Alkordi is feeling after enduring so much financial and physical strain in his effort to travel to the United States for medical treatment.â€

CAIR-LA is asking that Alkordi be allowed to return to the United States to begin his medical treatment and for CBP to change its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of incident is not repeated.

Alkordi’s uncle was deeply saddened by CBP’s decision to remove his nephew from the country. He told CAIR-LA:

“Such treatment is unacceptable and not befitting the image and values of our country, especially against a victim of war who has already endured so much pain and suffering. He arrived in the United States filled with hope and excitement. Less than 24 hours after his arrival, he was shipped back to Berlin as if he were damaged goods.â€

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Ojaala Ahmad, 714-776-1847, oahmad@cair.com

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