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Toddler, kept out of U.S., joins family

Matthew Barakat
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Kevin Wolf/AP PhotoAbdeloihab Boujrad holds a photo of his son, Ahmedyassine Boujrad. For more than two years Boujrad, a U.S. citizen, has fought unsuccessfully to bring his 3-year-old son Ahmedyassine home from Morocco to join him in Virginia.
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WASHINGTON ” After two years of inaction, U.S. immigration authorities approved a request Thursday for the 3-year-old son of a U.S. citizen to emigrate from Morocco and join his family in Virginia.

Abdeloihab Boujrad, 38, of Alexandria, and his wife, Leila, have been trying since June 2005 to get authorities to allow their son, Ahmedyassine, to join them. The toddler has been living with an aunt in Morocco.

The application languished without any action by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. An Islamic civil rights group that took up Boujrad’s cause suspected the delay was caused by a similarity in Ahmedyassine’s name to the founder of the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004.



The decision to approve the application came a day after The Associated Press and other media detailed the Boujrads’ plight.

“The matter has been resolved favorably,” USCIS spokesman Dan Kane said. “Once the issue was brought to our attention, we worked expeditiously to resolve it.”



Kane would not comment on what caused the delay.

Boujrad said he did not receive an explanation for the delay when he was told Thursday morning the application had finally been approved. But he was so ecstatic he did not care.

“I was shocked,” Boujrad said of being informed about the good news. “They said, ‘We apologize for the delay.”‘



Morris Days, a legal director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he appreciates how quickly the issue was resolved once Boujrad’s case was publicized. But he said he’d like more information on what caused the delay, so that similar incidents can be avoided.

“If they’ve looked into this, they must have been able to research, ‘How did this happen?”‘ Days said.

Days said he has nearly a dozen cases in the last few months involving Muslims in the D.C. region who are facing unexplained delays on various immigration applications.

Boujrad was living in Morocco in 1997 and engaged to Leila when he won an immigration lottery that allowed him to come to the United States. He married his wife in 1999 but was unable to bring her to the U.S. until 2005. She is now a legal permanent resident.

In the interim, Ahmedyassine was born in May 2004 in Morocco. Leila reluctantly left the boy in the care of her sister in the fall of 2005 when her visa allowing her to emigrate to the U.S. was about to expire.

Neither Abdeloihab nor Leila Boujrad have seen their son in person since then.


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