Family detained for 16 hours over the weekend

FAMILY DETAINED FOR 16 HOURS

We first met Tarek and Ahmed Al Olabi on Saturday while they were waiting for their parents at DFW Airport. Their flight was supposed to arrive at 9 a.m., but President Trump's immigration order kept the couple in Customs.

"We are expecting welcome, not expecting 'go back,'" said Ahmed Al Olabi.

Ahmed told News 8 that Customs officials told them they would be deported back to their home country. On B1-B2 visitor visas, Ahmed and his wife Basima Labdad were first taken to a large room with about 50 people.

They witnessed the elderly with medical issues sleeping on the floor during the wait. They were patted down, questioned, and taken to a smaller room, then asked to sign a document.

"[They were] shouting, 'You have to sign! You have to sign! If you do not sign you do not have right to come back to America more than five years,'" Ahmed paraphrased.

They refused to sign that paper. The couple asked for their sons or an attorney and neither were granted by Customs officials. Several sources tell us that paper was an aknowledgement of the President's order, but there was no confirmation from the Customs Border Patrol.

Ahmed says officials were insistent that they sign the documents, and at one point his wife screamed, prompting him to run out of his room and into hers.

"They catch me, put me on the floor, and put cuffs on my hands," he said.

They say they were both handcuffed for a brief time. Their sons are mad thinking about it.

"The only mistake that they did was being at the wrong time at the wrong place," said Tarek Al Olabi.

Tarek says his parents' phones were taken away because he could no longer get in contact with them. News 8 asked Ahmed what kinds of questions were posed to the couple.

Ahmed said they were asked whether they were ever persecuted, whether they were in the minority, but never directly asked if they were Muslim.

"They asked me if I was Sunni or Shiite and I said 'there is no difference,'" he said.

They never ended up signing any documents. They say the mood of Customs officials changed quickly after they got news a New York judge challenged the immigration order. After 16 hours they were let go, pleased to be back with family, but disturbed by what it took to be with family.

News 8 brought these claims to the media affairs office at Customs Border Protection. Our inquiries were made late in the day and we are hoping for a response in the coming days.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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