Saad Nabeel: Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Saad Nabeel and I am writing to you from Bangladesh. Prior to my arrival in this nation, I lived in the United States for 15 years. My parents brought me to America at age three. It is the only home I know. I used to attend the University of Texas at Arlington with a full scholarship in Electrical Engineering. Through no fault of my own I was forced to leave my home, friends, possessions, and most importantly, my education behind.

November 3rd 2009 is a day I will never forget. My mother called me and told me that my father had been detained by ICE and that we needed to leave immediately to Canada to seek refugee status. Being an only child, I had to take care of my mother and go with her.

My mother and I were denied entrance into Canada and sent back to the USA as if we were common criminals. I was separated from my mother and sent to a detention facility where I was forced to live with 60 men, many of whom were hardened criminals. There was no privacy and I was forced to use the facilities and showers while fully exposed. I lived in constant fear of being abused. I was without food for upwards of 14 hours a day and received little to no medical attention. When I asked for legal counsel I was threatened with criminal charges and jail time in a Federal Penitentiary. To this day I still have nightmares about being detained. Everything my parents taught me about human decency was replaced with humiliation. Mr. President I hope you are as outraged as I am hurt by this ordeal.

Bangladesh is extremely hot and humid. We have no air conditioning as the power goes out every day. These power outages can last twelve hours or more. The air is heavily polluted and I get food poisoning every week from the poor quality of food here. Raw sewage flows in open drains in front of our apartment. I see people outside with mangled bodies dying on the street because of the heat and starvation. I see mothers practically giving their children away because they are unable to feed them.

I do not know the language and I fear going outside because I am different from everyone else. Speaking in English is an easy way to be targeted here. We cannot afford to live in a safer area. I have not left the apartment for 8 months. It simply is too dangerous for me to leave the apartment unless my parents go with me. I cannot attend school due to the language barrier. I do not know anyone in Bangladesh.

On top of all this, my parents are both ill and have been for months. My father suffers severe asthma attacks that make him bedridden on most days. My mother has post traumatic stress and cannot accept the fact that she is not at our home in Texas.

These events transpired after we were approved to receive our Green Cards. ICE forced my family to leave knowing that Green Cards were available to us. We have been waiting for our Green Cards for 15 years now.

Mr. President, you are the most powerful man in the world, all I ask from you is to bring me home. All I ever wanted was an education so I could become an engineer. I just want to go home and go back to college. Please don’t keep me exiled any longer. Please bring me home.

Sincerely,
Saad Nabeel

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. Cross-Posted at Citizen Orange. Posted at the Texas Civil Rights Review by permission of the author.–gm

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