FORT WORTH (KRLD) – A Fort Worth woman is speaking out about a night of terror after she watched her husband be taken away by security at JFK Airport last weekend.
Kristen Behdani’s husband Behnam is a native of Iran and has been in the United States for 10 years. He had a series of visas before receiving his green card last year.
“That’s where this all starts,” says Kristen. “We planned a trip to see his family, whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years while waiting for this green card. We all decided to meet in Dubai.”
The Behdanis, along with their 2-year-old son, had been on vacation for one day when they were told about President Trump’s executive order.
“My husband’s company called, saying this order might keep him from getting back into the country,” says Kristen. “They advised us to come home as quickly as possible. An immigration lawyer advised the same. We were at a loss, asking people ‘Is this real’?”
Kristen didn’t anticipate trouble because of Benham’s green card, but they took the advice. They got the first flight to JFK Airport, so as to be back on American soil as quickly as possible. They arrived around 1 in the afternoon.
“We got in and the security officer hands back my and my son’s passports, no problem,” says Kristen. “But they held onto my husband’s passport and green card and told him to come with them. We kept saying ‘wait a minute, this is a green card, it should protect him’ but they still told him to come with them.”
For the next 13 hours, Kristen would wait as Benham was held and questioned. She spent several hours in the holding area, before being told she and her son might want to move to a hotel.
“An officer brought Benham back for a minute, and suggested we leave since they didn’t know how long he would be there,” says Kristen. “We kissed, hugged, and said we’d see each other later. I took my son out of the room, went into the restroom and just cried. I was lost, confused, and terrified in a city I didn’t know.”
Over the hours that followed, Kristen says she remained in touch with an immigration lawyer and watched as more reports of detainees in other airports began to hit the news.
“Around 9 that night, the news of the stay came through,” she says. “My family was blowing up my phone all excited, but the lawyer said all it meant is that my husband couldn’t be deported. He told me we still might have to file suit to release him.”
At 2:30 the following morning, Kristen got the phone call she’d been hoping for.
“I got a call from Benham saying he’d been released,” she says. “Of course I just completely broke down again. I’d been up all night waiting for that call. He came to the hotel, and finally our family was together again.”
Despite the strain of waiting for news from her husband, Kristen says she’s thankful. Her 2-year-old son will remember nothing about this, and kindness from a stranger made the waiting easier to bear.
“My son just ran around, not knowing a thing about what was going on,” she says. “And as we were waiting, a woman sitting next to us was hearing my story. She brought over food for us and a blanket to wrap my son in. She kept saying that we were lost right now, and she wanted to help us, and that I needed to feed my son and feed myself.”
Kristen calls the experience a confusing nightmare and says they don’t plan on traveling overseas again.
“If they don’t like the country we went to, does that mean they can keep my husband from coming back to the United States? There’s too many unknowns.”
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