Texas high school student detained by immigration officials being held in Chicago

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Katy HS student detained after flight from Jordan
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A 16-year-old Katy High School student has been detained after a flight to Jordan, his attorney confirmed to Eyewitness News.

KATY, Texas -- A Texas high school student from Jordan is being held at a detention center in Chicago.

Mohammad Khadra, 16, was stopped by immigration officials at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Saturday, hours after President Trump's controversial immigration order was signed. He was returning home from Jordan, where he had traveled to renew his visa.

Jordan is not on the list of seven nations impacted by the immigration order. It's not clear why Khadra was detained; his attorney is still working to secure his release.

"It's not just the seven countries that are listed in the Executive Order who are being stopped in the airport," said Ali Zakaria, attorney for Khadra. "It's essentially everyone who is Muslim or who is from a Muslim country in the world is being stopped and scrutinized."

Khadra was reportedly held at Bush Airport for two days before being transferred to a children's holding facility Chicago.

"Why does [Customs and Border Protection] hold a child at the airport for 48 hours without letting him communicate with his family?"

Zakaria says Khadra, who is a junior at Katy High School, is living with his older brother while attending Katy High School. His parents live in Jordan.

"What is unusual is the number of Muslims being stopped at the airport, questioned for six to nine hours, and what's unusual in this case is for the child to be detained for 48 hours, then transferred," said Zakaria.

Well-known immigration attorney Gordon Quan, who is not involved in the case, says the detention of minors is growing, especially in predominantly Muslim countries. Sometimes, clients and officials aren't even sure why certain people are being held.

"Now with this increased scrutiny, they're just holding everybody because they don't know what they want to do," said Quan, who has advised his clients, even green card holders, not to travel.

Zakaria says he has filed paperwork to get all the documents related to Khadra, hoping to find out why the teenager is being held. Although he hopes the situation is quickly resolved, the attorney says he wouldn't be surprised if the teenager is held for several months.