Northampton, Mass. (WWLP)- A federal crackdown on illegal immigration hit close to home for one Western Massachusetts family. In order to be allowed to stay in the United States, an immigrant must have a purpose.
Nearly 250 Northampton demonstrators called for Niberd Abdalla to be allowed to stay in the United States.
Abdalla escaped persecution in Iraq 41 years ago. He never became a citizen. To qualify for citizenship, you must be 18 years old, have had a green card for 5 years, live in the US continuously, demonstrate good moral character, pass tests and pay fees. Nyberd fit that bill. But now, 37 years after his 18th birthday, he faces deportation because he didn’t get his citizenship.
“It probably would’ve been a smart thing to do, but even though he didn’t, 41 years is a long time”,says Denis Lukan of Northampton. “He should be allowed to stay. I’m sure he’s not the only one in that situation where he didn’t get naturalized. At 15 you don’t think about that thing.”
His parents arrived in the United States in the 1990s. They became naturalized citizens. His partner says he was never given the opportunity.
“He tried too late to get the amnesty that was originally offered”, says Ellen McShane, Abdalla’s partner. “He wasn’t aware of it. He just went blindly living his life and missed that opportunity.”
Niberd is part of a national group of 1,500 Iraqis who all face deportation. The ACLU in Michigan won a stay of deportation for those 1,500 Iraqis. The stay expires July 24, 2017.