After Long Struggle, Arab Father of Six Granted Permanent Residency

After Long Struggle, Arab Father of Six Granted Permanent Residency

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It was January of this year that Anees Sous had his bags all packed and ready to go back with him to Jordan in expectation of being deported.

But almost a year later, after an exhausting fight to stay in the United States with plenty of ups and downs, he found himself in a much better place, resting on the shoulders of friends and family after being hoisted into the air during a dabke dancing celebration at his eldest daughter Tasneem's wedding.

Sous, the 47-year-old immigrant originally from Palestine who lives in Hamtramck and owns a trucking business, didn't want to be the center of attention at the occasion, which took place at Wayne Tree Manor in Wayne earlier this month, but the truth is that the celebration wouldn't have been the same without him.

Sous, a father of six, had long worried that he wouldn't be able to see his children grow up, but after he and his wife were given permanent status on Dec. 14 in a special immigration court session in Detroit, that won't be a concern anymore.

"I feel very happy, finally we can relax and think about our life without any fear of being deported," he said.

"Now, I can think about my long term plans, like if I want to start a new business or anything I can do now but before it was out of the question; I was living day-to-day."

Sous came to the United States from the West Bank on a student visa in 1982 before settling down and starting a family.

He was scheduled to be deported in January of this year until he received a call that U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan convinced local Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to grant him an extra 30 days.

Then, a great flood of sorts began as petitions were signed, letters were mailed, and even faxes were sent to officials in order to get the case re-opened.

Sous and his lawyers were able to straighten out a few lingering issues and a lengthy process, or a "nightmare" as Sous deemed it, finally came to an end this month thanks in large part to the constant pressure that kept the spotlight on the case.

"We are very gratified that we have witnessed such models of success and victories," said Imad Hamad, the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan. Hamad and ADC-MI worked diligently to keep the case alive even when things looked grim.

"If not for cases like the Sous family, and also the Amer family (who helped pass the recent Amer Act in Lansing) to lead the effort and the campaign and refusing to give up, I don't think we would have reached what we just saw. We owe it to them and we salute them for being true fighters on behalf of justice and fairness in America.

"Only in America, this is the blessing of America where there will be a time that you feel desperate and hopeless and then things will turn around and justice will be set straight. This is a message to the community and beyond to fight back, be consistent, be truthful and own the facts and you will win, no doubt about it."

While political pressure doesn't directly lead to statuses being adjusted, it can help move along the case in timely matters such as Sous'.

Hamad thanked the media, specifically The Arab American News, for spotlighting the Sous case in two articles along the with the Amer case and said that the community would be wise to recognize the role the press plays in such cases and how important it is to offer support in whatever way they see fit.

He also said that Conyers deserved a "great salute" for his work in moving the case along.

Sous thanked the ADC and Hamad, Conyers, The Arab American News, the Yemeni community in Hamtrack who supported him, and others who wrote, called, or offered other forms of support to keep his case in the spotlight. Al Jazeera is currently producing a documentary about his story as well.

"It's like building a house, every stone is important and that's what made the whole thing come together," Sous said.

He's looking forward to watching his other children grow up and thankful that he'll be there for all of their most important moments in life, just as he was there for Tasneem.

"It's just a great feeling and I thank everyone for their support and prayers, it really is a life-changing story," Sous said.