Man Without a Country, A La ‘The Terminal,’ but Due to US Error

Despite living with U.S. citizenship since 1990, Abdo Hizam learned last year that his status was given to him in error.

The State Department alerted Hizam of the mistake in 2011, telling him it was no error of his own, but a bureacratic problem that had created the blunder. Hizam gave up his Yemeni citizenship shortly after arriving in the United States at age nine, but now U.S. government officials have removed his citizenship, revoked his passport, and left Hizam in an immigration status limbo.

Hizam’s family currently lives in Yemen, where he has routinely visited throughout his life. After sending in his family’s citizenship applications, the U.S. government discovered an error on Hizam’s own citizenship application. Hizam’s Yemeni-American father, who currently lives in Yemen, had not satisfied the requirement which stated that he could transmit citizenship to Hizam if he could prove he had lived in the United States for at least 10 years prior to Hizam’s birth. Hizam’s father, it appeared, had only spent a little less than eight years in the United States.

Hizam does not currently “exist on paper,” as he put it to The New York Times. He may undergo deportation procedures. However, due to his uncertain status in Yemen, Hizam is unsure where he will go.

The story is similar to the heartbreaking tale of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, a Iranian refugee who lived in Charles de Gaulle Airport from 1988 until 2006. In his 17 years at the airport, Nasseri had to survive on the food given to him by airport employees, and spent most of his days reading and writing.

“My day is just like inside a library. Silence,” said Nasseri to the Christian Science Monitor in 2004.