On Saturday, Hameed Khalid Darweesh made headlines as the Iraqi citizen who was detained at JFK as a result of the President’s executive order that puts a temporary suspension on refugees and visitors from Iraq and six other Middle Eastern and African nations. Darweesh is an Iraqi interpreter who worked with the U.S. military to help service members communicate on the battlefield. Just as he was released after being detained at the airport for 18 hours, Darweesh addressed reporters that were outside waiting to speak to him. He showed appreciation for the nation and those that supported him through the previous few hours.
“First of all I want to thank the people that take care of me and support me,” he told the crowd. “They leave their family, their business, and they come to support me. This is the humanity. This is the soul of America. This is what pushed me to move, leave my country and come here. I am very, very thankful to all of the people who come to support me.”
“Thank you very much…and always, we know, America is the land of freedom,” he continued. “The land of freedom, the land of the right. So this is what took me to come here. I am very thankful, and I am very happy. Really, I forget whatever happened to me because of those people.”
“America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world,” he said when asked about America.
When a reporter asked Darweesh what he would say to Donald Trump, the answer he gave shocked New York’s Democratic Congresswoman, Nydia Valazquez, who was standing by his side.
“I like him, but I don’t know,” Darweesh said, to Rep. Valazquez’s disappointment. She shook her head and stared right at him as he said the words before looking down in apparent confusion and sadness.
“This is a policy, I don’t know. He is the President and I am a normal person,” he added.