Christian family fleeing ISIS kept in detention centre over a month in US

A Christian family who fled war-torn Syria to the USA in hope of a new life have spent a month separated in detention camps, despite US checks showing they do not pose a security threat.


Samer was shocked by the reception his family received, he told The Guardian, exclaiming that "we are the ones running away from war."

Samer and his family made the intrepid journey from Syria in hope of escaping the horrors of their home nation, however their arrival in Texas was unfortunately timed, being days after the Paris attacks.

Days after their arrival, the family became the unknowing subject of a national debate over national security and potential terrorist invasion.

Trump speculated that the family - Samer, his wife and two sons - aged two and five - could be members of Islamic State, despite being Chrsitians. Similarly, his GOP rival, Ben Carson, speculated that they might represent America's "worst nightmare".

The family are being held indefinitely in an immigration centre near San Antonio, Samer separated from his wife and two sons. He had been forbidden from speaking to his wife, even by telephone, until Wednesday.

He said authorities had explained very little to him, not giving him a clear reason why his family is still detained.

"My very small children are in prison," said Samer (a pseudonym) over the telephone. "I had no idea that the political climate was so against Syrian refugees. If I had known that it was so terrible here I wouldn't have brought my family."

The detention of his wife and two children is despite a July ruling by a federal judge in California which prioritised the fast release of mothers and children from detention centres. Texas officials are currently considering licensing the facilities, described by refugees as prisons, as "childcare facilities."

The family have been background checked and found not to be a security threat. Their defence attorney, Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES, said "There's no doubt in my mind that these families are in a dungeon of public perception completely divorced from reality and logic."

"They have followed every rule, completed every step in the process that results in asylum seekers being released to live with their families and told to report to court, but they are being treated differently ... the saddest thing about these cases is that these people fled from a government that singled them out because of who they were – Christians. They came to our country seeking protection only to find that we are doing the same thing because of their national origin," he added.

Samer did not share details of his story, afraid of implicating family members still in Syria, but described it as "really, really bad, very dangerous. I had to get my family out."

His arrival at the border of America was first reported by Breitbart, who described them as having been "caught" on 16 November. Donald Trump later tweeted about them, reiterating Breitbart's sentiment

This goes against the report by the Department of Homeland Security, who described the family having "presented themselves" to US authorities.

Samer traded property worth over $50,000 to a people smuggler in order to make the trip to America, parts of which he described as "much more comfortable than being in detention in Texas."

"If my children stay in prison I will go crazy," he said. "All I want is for my family to spend the holidays together."