A popular area photographer was unexpectedly deported to his native Yemen after a regularly scheduled check-in with the United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Westchester resident Hazaea “Anwar” Alomasi, of Elmsford, familiar to many Hudson Valley residents, was deported on Tuesday, Feb. 4 before his lawyer had the opportunity to see him or file an appeal, officials said.
Alomasi has been in the country for more than two decades. Alomasi’s unexpected ousting from the country caught his community - where he was a popular figure - off guard.
On his Facebook page, Alomasi wrote on Tuesday, "The outpouring of love and support makes my heart hopeful that I will be able to come home - to the place that I love, to the people I love. Your prayers fill my heart and my soul. Thank you.
"Because of all of you I have hope. Please keep sending the love."
On the Peekskill NY in Pictures Facebook page - which Alomasi was an administrator, others reached out to express their support for the photographer.
"I want to thank you for the overwhelming show of support for our Administrator, friend, fellow photographer, and dearly loved brother Anwar Alomaisi," it said. "We thank you for understanding that we have suspended the normal order of business in the group while we work to raise awareness of Anwar’s plight and work to affect his safe return home.
“If you insist on falling on your sword by voicing your disapproval of Anwar or our policies then you can be sure that an admin will affect your removal without any further explanation or warning. Thank you all so very much. Anwar told me he is in tears reading the comments showing your outpouring of love and support.”
Alomaisi's lawyer, Kai De Graaf, told the Huffington Post he had no chance to appeal. He fears for his life in Yemen, De Graaf said.
In recent years, Yemen has been known as a war-torn nation that has become one of the most brutal on the globe.
“Anwar is a tremendous asset to the photography community and a friend to all. It would not be an overstatement to call him the pied piper of wildlife photography,” Paul Vincent stated on Facebook.
Alomaisi came to the United States on a tourist visa in 1998, and later studied photography at Westchester Community College.
According to reports, following his deportation on Friday, Jan. 31, Alomaisi fears for his life now that he is back in war-torn Yemen.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.