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Veteran Who Worked With Man Stopped After Immigration Ban Talks About Colleague


An executive order signed by President Donald Trump went into effect last night. It suspends the refugee admissions program for the next 120 days. It bars immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for the next three months. It went into place as many people were in the process of coming to the United States, including Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi who served as a translator for the U.S. government there. He was detained at JFK Airport last night. He has just been shown live on CNN outside of the airport - apparently released a short time ago. We have Brandon Friedman on the line with us. He's a veteran and former Obama administration official who worked with Mr. Darweesh while they were both in Iraq. Thank you for being with us, Mr. Friedman.

BRANDON FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me on, Scott.

SIMON: And how long was he held? Do we know - was he charged? Did anybody ask him a question that we can draw any inference from?

FRIEDMAN: No. I don't know anything about what happened while he was inside. I know he arrived on a flight at about 6:30 last night, and he was apparently just released in the last half hour.

SIMON: And all of his paperwork was in order. He had the proper visa, every - everything looked fine as far as you know.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, absolutely. He had a special immigrant visa given to him because of his time serving with the U.S. government and the U.S. military while he was in Iraq - while were in Iraq.

SIMON: And are there more people in detention right now?

FRIEDMAN: I don't know. I'm not sure. I'm hearing news reports that there are, so we'll just have to see.

SIMON: What's Mr. Darweesh like? What kind of work did you get to - did you do while you got to know each other?

FRIEDMAN: So Hameed is - I mean, he's committed to the mission. He's committed to protecting the U.S. troops who are over there, and he's absolutely fearless. We would go out and all the American soldiers would be wearing body armor. He would go out with - when we first started, he would go out wearing absolutely nothing but his clothes, and he would do the same missions. He didn't have an ounce of fear in him, and it was really unfortunate that they decided to detain him. This executive orders is quite un-American because he's exactly the type of - exactly the type of person we need to be letting in. We really owe it to him.

SIMON: Do you know if he - there are reports that lawsuits are being filed. Do you know - is that something that interests him? Is he one of the people we're getting reports about?

FRIEDMAN: I don't know. I have actually not spoken to him since he's gotten out, so I'm not sure.

SIMON: Yeah. We don't know a lot of the circumstances of what's happened, Mr. Friedman, but I wonder what your concerns are right now.

FRIEDMAN: Well, I'm concerned that other people are going to be stopped and detained the same way. And my overriding concern is that the others that are going to be stopped and detained aren't going to be released as he has been. My fear is that other people are going to be stopped and they're going to be turned around and sent back. And that's very un-American.

SIMON: In part because of you and people like you Mr. Darweesh was able to get some attention to his case.

FRIEDMAN: Hopefully. I mean, hopefully we can help out and hopefully we can sort of raise our voices and shine some light on this situation so this doesn't happen again because this executive order really should be rescinded. It's not helping anybody. It's actually going to endanger U.S. troops because now people who work for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria are not going to have any incentive to do it if they think that we're not going to back them up, which is what this executive order says.

SIMON: Brandon Friedman is a veteran and CEO of The McPherson Square Group. Thanks so much for being with us.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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