My friend Maya needs our help. The other day when wandering through the office she told me a story that made me weep. I need to tell it here and ask you all to help us.

Last Wednesday, two of her family’s oldest and dearest friends, Waheed and Nusrat Hashmi, an elderly Pakistani couple, were ripped from their homeby Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Hashmis were placed in detention near Cleveland, where they remain, clothed in orange jumpsuits, unable to see each other. They are likely to be deported this week.

The Hashmi’s story is a story of the system failing. Plain and simple, it is a story of it all going wrong. Dr. Waheed Hashmi legally entered the United States in 1973 as a Fulbright Scholar. Since then, he has worked with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and with immigration attorneys to ensure that he and his family have a chance to attain permanent residency in the United States. He followed the rules every step of the way.

Over a period of approximately 35 years Dr. Hashmi, a scientist, and Ms. Nusrat Hashmi, a floral designer, have lovingly raised their children, held jobs, paid taxes, contributed towards social security, and invested their time and talents to build a better Toledo community.Due to a series of circumstances and occurrences beyond their control, including oversights on the part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, some of which were revealed in documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, the Hashmis have faced several obstacles to attaining permanent residency but they never gave up hope of achieving what all immigrants want–a decent life for themselves and their children. However, as law abiding people, when they recently realized that their dream of staying here could not be realized, they voluntarily made plans to leave and return home to a country they had not been home for more than three decades.  But those plans were interrupted last week when ICE showed up at their door and arrested them.

If the authorities had taken the time to explore the details of the Hashmis’ case, they would have learned that after Dr. Hashmi retired from the University of Toledo, the couple began the process of selling their home and leaving for Pakistan where a job was waiting for Dr. Hashmi. They were never given the chance to prove that they were in the process of returning to Pakistan. Instead, public resources were used to lock up this elderly couple who posed absolutely no threat or risk of flight.

At the Maple Heights City Jail, Dr. and Ms. Hashmi are being held in separate quarters, are unable to see each other, and their interaction with their children has been severely restricted–they have been allowed only 20-minute visitations during which they can only speak with their children via a telephone and across a glass screen. The trauma of the detention threatens the health of Dr. and Ms. Hashmi–both of whom have serious health problems.


As it stands now, they will never again see their home in Toledo. They won’t be able to say their goodbyes–to their home, their community of 35 years, not even to their children, who won’t even be allowed to hug their parents before they leave.

It is simply inhumane to hold two elderly people in custody for no good reason, especially when they were voluntarily planning to depart the U.S. The Hashmi detention is a colossal waste of precious tax dollars and does not make us any safer. ICE should lock up those who would do us harm, not senior citizens whose misfortune has brought them into the grip of a dysfunctional immigration system. ICE needs to do the right thing and release Dr. and Ms. Hashmi.

Please read more about the case and consider signing on to a letter to Julie Myers, the head of ICE. Maya and her family , are hoping that if enough of us speak up together the Hashmi’s can be released from detention and allowed to close up their house, say their goodbyes and start their new life with dignity. The unjust detention of the Hashmis is not at all an unusual case. The Hashmi family hopes that bringing attention to their case will help the push for immigration reform.

You can get to the online petition that Maya set up by clicking here. Please take a moment to go there and read their story. This should not be. It should not be. It should not be.

UPDATE:   

The Hashmis have been released!   Our joint efforts on many fronts—grassroots, legal, and political—sent a powerful message to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The Hashmis arrived home late Wednesday night.  They are tired but relieved to be home with their daughters.  They have three short weeks left in the US.   Message from Waheed and Nusrat Hashmi: We are so touched by the outpouring of sympathy and concern that came during our ordeal.  So much love and support came from the people we know and from people we will probably never meet.  It was a horrible experience but despite what was done to us, you all helped us keep our faith in humanity.  We need to continue to speak out against a system that is utterly inhumane and inconsistent in its handling of immigration issues.  We feel that people who are decent, honest, hard working and who obey the law should be valued, and respected, and honored—not put in jail.  We all need to continue to speak out against atrocities committed against innocent people.  Thank you for everything! 

3 Responses to “A Call for Help”

  1. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Going to link to your post darling as I have a lot of readers nowadays so perhaps it will help a bit, I don’t think I will be any use in signing a petition as I am Australian. What a terribly sad story, I just can’t imagine having to leave my home after 35 years let alone without a chance to go back and go through it and pack everything lovingly. This breaks my heart, imagine having to go and live in a place you haven’t called home in over 35 years, I can’t! Those poor people, I will pray for them this night and light a candle. Gosh Meg, just after our discussions on suffering, what is the point of this – at least you are doing something darling, good for you, perhaps these people will serve as an example of the problems in the system, I hope so, I don’t want them to go through this for nothing. Love to you darling, xxx

  2. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Hi Meg, I have just had a comment on my blog regarding this post. Beverly is the ladies name that has left the comment and she says she had just googled this story and found that they have been released. I don’t know whether it’s true or not but that is what she has let me know anyway. Here’s hoping it is true, hugs Jx

  3. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    I am so glad! xx