After 30 years in the U.S., where she raised three children, worked and paid taxes in Sterling Heights, Zahrija Purovic, 50, was put on a plane and sent to Montenegro on Thursday.
Despite no criminal record and a pending motion for a stay of removal in federal appeals court, immigration authorities ordered her to pack her belongings, purchase a plane ticket and appear at Detroit Metro Airport.
Upon arriving with family members and friends around 4 p.m. Thursday, two ICE agents told Purovic that she had not been granted a stay, and escorted her to her flight.
During an emotional goodbye, a friend of 16 years collapsed to the floor while hugging Purovic. After regaining consciousness, the woman asked the ICE agents if they could say one last goodbye.
“No,” the agent said, and escorted Purovic to her gate.
Her lawyer called the deportation nonsensical, and said Purovic has few ties to her native country, having never gone back since moving to the U.S. at age 19.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson declined to discuss her case.
“This is a good example of the nonsensical deportations that we are seeing,” said Purovic’s attorney, Carrie Pastor. “She has no criminal record… she was denied asylum many years ago, but we have no idea why since the court records have been damaged.
I wonder how many immigrants sent back to their nation of origin for no good reason have died due to this? I wonder if anyone will keep track of this. What I don’t wonder is what future historians will say about the Trump administration and the early 21st century, for they will almost certainly see it is as a period of great national shame and horror.