Abderrahim Zakarya needs your help.
Zakarya is an undocumented New Jersey resident of 10 years and an EMT volunteer, who risks deportation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The 23-year-old Jersey City resident of Moroccan descent is married to an American citizen, but due to financial difficulties, Zakarya and his wife were unable to go through with the legal process to submit his immigration documents.
Zakarya is an active member of his community. He served as an EMT in Jersey City and joined the EMT Task Force during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 to help affected individuals in the tri-state area.
Zakarya helped found The Building Blocks of New Jersey, a nonprofit organization that feeds homeless people in Jersey City. He has helped feed over 500 people.
Belal Bahader, a childhood friend of Zakarya, described him as “a pinnacle asset to the Muslim community in the greater Tri-state area.”
After hearing about Zakarya’s detention, a group of New Jersey activists quickly organized a rally at Liberty State Park in Jersey City to demand Zakarya’s release. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and New Jersey senators and congressmen are expected to attend the rally.
The rally falls on the same day that thousands are expected to fill the streets in New Jersey and across the country to demand immigration reform.
Despite Zakarya’s robust activism and community involvement, many were surprised to know that he is undocumented and now faces deportation.
Hadiya Abdel, a New Jersey activist, noted on Facebook that, “The detainment of Abderrahim Zakarya and the shock of the community for not knowing he was undocumented speaks to the isolation undocumented Muslims feel from their larger communities,” adding, “so many undocumented Muslims feel shame and face stigma in mentioning the lack of ‘papers’.”
To alleviate this problem, Abdel suggests that religious institutions, particularly Islamic institutions, should become “spaces of advocacy, empowerment, financial, immigration, and emotional support to undocumented immigrants.”
To support Zakarya’s legal fees, click here.
Note: This is still a developing story with emerging details.