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Life After 9/11: One Young Arab Gets Thrown in US Jail

A recent piece in the New York Magazine chronicles the nightmarish journey of a young Arab immigrant. After September 11, Rasha found herself in jail with her family. Rasha's story sheds light on a darker side of national security.

At five-years-old Rasha moved with her family from Syria to the United States on a tourist visa. When she was in the sixth grade, after years of trying to get permanent residency, and failing, Rasha and her family moved back to Syria. Eventually she would get her Brooklyn life back, after her family was finally granted their green-cards. But the joy didn't last forever.

In February 2002, fifteen US officers awoke Rasha and her family in the middle of the night — Rasha's family was being investigated for terrorist connections. Once in a holding cell, officials questioned each family member in a separate room. To find out what happened next,

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After a few days of this treatment, Rasha's father begged the FBI agent to deport the family. Instead, INS detained the family until they completed their investigation. After three months of detention, the family was unexpectedly and quickly released, allowed to live their lives as before, but with new fears. Rasha, having missed school, received Fs on her report card, and having missed mortgage payments, the family had to sell their home. The New York Magazine gives a detailed account of the family's stay in prison and the recovery process after their release.

Lucky for Rasha and her family, their lawyer and other family members advocated for their release. But many others, who were arbitrarily detained, stayed longer or were deported following September 11. Without an understanding of what people like Rasha have gone through, can we accurately assess America's national security policy?

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True-Song True-Song 7 years
>And I think we responded to 9/11 in many ways, including being heroic and dignified, should I tell my family member who joined up after that he wasnt? is he not worthy of respect? Well, one I think most of the comments were referring to the government responded, not individuals. Two, and I know this isn't popular, but I'm not particularly impressed with those who joined the military after September 11th. Because they joined knowing we would likely be going to war. To quote Joel Stein, "But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam."
janneth janneth 7 years
Absolutely, Catergirl. Those who signed up after 9/11 deserve our complete respect and gratitude.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
Agreed, gitsie - I think everyone respects those that have risked their lives in Afganistan and Iraq. I think what we all take issue with is this random targeting of innocent people who happen to fall into certain "profiles"....
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
Agreed, gitsie - I think everyone respects those that have risked their lives in Afganistan and Iraq. I think what we all take issue with is this random targeting of innocent people who happen to fall into certain "profiles"....
gitsie123 gitsie123 7 years
*who risked their lives
gitsie123 gitsie123 7 years
*who risked their lives
gitsie123 gitsie123 7 years
I remember in high school there was a young Arab man who owned a coffee shop across the street and at the end of the year he disappeared and no one knew where he went. It turned out that a jealous ex girl friend falsely accused him of being a terrorist. He was released months later but I have a feeling that this (informing the FBI about random muslims) has become a trend. Caterpillargirl, I don't think that is what anyone is saying. It is not fair to target random Muslim families without any real evidence. I think everyone respects the men and women he risked their lives to go and fight in Iraq.
gitsie123 gitsie123 7 years
I remember in high school there was a young Arab man who owned a coffee shop across the street and at the end of the year he disappeared and no one knew where he went. It turned out that a jealous ex girl friend falsely accused him of being a terrorist. He was released months later but I have a feeling that this (informing the FBI about random muslims) has become a trend. Caterpillargirl, I don't think that is what anyone is saying. It is not fair to target random Muslim families without any real evidence. I think everyone respects the men and women he risked their lives to go and fight in Iraq.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
I dont know the whole story so i cannot make an opinion either way. And I think we responded to 9/11 in many ways, including being heroic and dignified, should I tell my family member who joined up after that he wasnt? is he not worthy of respect?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
I dont know the whole story so i cannot make an opinion either way. And I think we responded to 9/11 in many ways, including being heroic and dignified, should I tell my family member who joined up after that he wasnt? is he not worthy of respect?
amybdk amybdk 7 years
"I think the gov't should have ponied up some $ to help them get back on their feet." Positively.
amybdk amybdk 7 years
"I think the gov't should have ponied up some $ to help them get back on their feet."Positively.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
I second that, Roarman! Whenever I hear these stories, I get so angry! Not just because the government has ruined so many innocent people's lives with this insanity, but because they have wasted so much time and money on these useless "investigations" that could have been so much better spent on other things.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
I second that, Roarman! Whenever I hear these stories, I get so angry! Not just because the government has ruined so many innocent people's lives with this insanity, but because they have wasted so much time and money on these useless "investigations" that could have been so much better spent on other things.
Jillness Jillness 7 years
"We had an opportunity after 9/11 to become a Country that came together and dealt with a tragedy with dignity and respect, but instead everything that has been done in response has been with dishonor and distrust. We had the whole world on our side, not anymore."I agree.
Jillness Jillness 7 years
"We had an opportunity after 9/11 to become a Country that came together and dealt with a tragedy with dignity and respect, but instead everything that has been done in response has been with dishonor and distrust. We had the whole world on our side, not anymore." I agree.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 7 years
I think the gov't should have ponied up some $ to help them get back on their feet. Not to be callous, but in the scheme of things this particular story doesn't seem as egregious as others I've heard.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 7 years
I think the gov't should have ponied up some $ to help them get back on their feet. Not to be callous, but in the scheme of things this particular story doesn't seem as egregious as others I've heard.
bellaressa bellaressa 7 years
I believe there are more stories like this and I believe in the next two years there will be more people and families bringing this issue to the front. I also believe this happens more than we think it does. Things happen everyday in this country --we really need to stop being blind of issues that happen to others just b/c it's not us does not mean it does not happen.
bellaressa bellaressa 7 years
I believe there are more stories like this and I believe in the next two years there will be more people and families bringing this issue to the front. I also believe this happens more than we think it does. Things happen everyday in this country --we really need to stop being blind of issues that happen to others just b/c it's not us does not mean it does not happen.
stephley stephley 7 years
No, you can't accurately assess U.S. national security policy without considering what has happened to Rasha and her family and hundreds of other stories about terrorism investigators run amok.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
that's too high a price to pay for security. What's the point in protecting our country if we destroy the good things about it?
True-Song True-Song 7 years
This is so scary. And there's not more of an uproar, because we don't think it will happen to us.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
Sweet land of liberty... Thank you George Bush for creating a country we can be proud of, a shining example for the rest of the world to follow. And President Bush had the audacity to chastise China for their human rights travesties. We had an opportunity after 9/11 to become a Country that came together and dealt with a tragedy with dignity and respect, but instead everything that has been done in response has been with dishonor and distrust. We had the whole world on our side, not anymore.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 7 years
Good grief..that people's lives and educations can be so mindlessly wrecked without apology, without reparation... Its easy to make blithe statements about people's fates, when we ourselves feel we will not befall them. But if we continue to let fear dictate our choices, or lack of them, the likelihood that these types of things can happen to any of us will increase. Freedom in a civilized society is a balancing act between fear and bravery, between compassion and common sense. At what point does "protecting freedoms" actually involve systematically dismantling them? I am feeling like we are finding that out, tragically, in these past few years.
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