Immigration authorities took a 40-year-old single mother from Nahant who originally hails from Morocco into custody Tuesday and are looking to deport her, her attorney confirmed.
Siham Byah, who has lived in the United States since 1999, was taken into custody at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Burlington, said her lawyer, Matt Cameron of East Boston.
Byah has an 8-year-old son who is a US citizen, Cameron said. Cameron said the son was in state custody Tuesday.
Cameron said he was not given any explanation for why ICE took her into custody. He was told it was a “D.C. decision,” he said.
“This is really unexpected today,” he said.
Messages left with ICE were not immediately returned Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families declined to comment on the case.
State officials have said that if a child is in a parent’s custody when the parent is detained, the parent can make arrangements to place the child with an “appropriate caregiver.”
DCF would only become involved if a report of abuse or neglect were filed, according to state officials.
Cameron said a deportation order was issued against Byah in the mid-2000s. Since that time, she has applied for stays of removal from the country. As part of that process, she has checked in, usually on an annual basis, with local ICE authorities. In the past, federal authorities have granted her requests for stays formally or simply told her to check in again the following year, Cameron said.
Tuesday, that changed.
When Byah reported to ICE’s office in Burlington, she was taken into custody, Cameron said.
“I’m still in shock,” he said late Tuesday afternoon.
He said he planned on filing an emergency motion in immigration court to challenge that decision and request a stay of deportation.
She was transferred to a holding facility in Dartmouth Tuesday, Cameron said.
Cameron said his client is politically outspoken.
He said Byah was involved in the Occupy movement in Boston and said she was a feminist who has spoken out against US policies and radical Islam.