Detained Iraqi Immigrant Speaks After Release at JFK

Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi who worked for the U.S. Army in Iraq, said after being released from detention at JFK on Saturday that even after his ordeal, he believes America “is the land of freedom.” Darweesh was one of two Iraqi refugees at the center of a dramatic showdown on Saturday, as two members of Congress in New York rushed to the airport and demanded the pair be let into the country despite President Trump’s controversial immigration ban. The ban created chaos around the world, as refugees heading to the U.S. were blocked from boarding planes or detained upon their arrival in the U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler tweeted around midday that he and Rep. Nydia Velazquez had managed to free Darweesh after his detention. The other refugee remained in detention as a result of what Nadler called Trump’s “shameful order,” an “extreme vetting” announced Friday night that temporarily bans citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Surrounded by cameras after his ordeal, Darweesh expressed thanks for the many people who supported him and called for his release. He said he was astonished by the show of support “by all those people waiting for me ... they don't know me, but they leave everything and come to support me.” “This is the soul of America,” he said. “This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country.” “I am very thankful, I am very happy.” When asked what he thinks of America, he said, “America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world.”