Seven People Whose Lives Have Been Upended by the Muslim Ban
by Nidya Sarria, AIUSA Press Officer
President Trump’s travel ban is a disaster. Rather than make people safer, the order has caused thousands of people to live in fear and uncertainty. Families have been unnecessarily separated. Refugees have been turned away or told to keep waiting, despite credible threats of violence against them. Students have been detained and searched at airports. Even some U.S. citizens and permanent residents are now too fearful to leave the country out of worry that they will not be allowed back in.
Today, the Trump administration’s executive order is scheduled for another federal appeals court review. If allowed to enter into effect, it would cause immeasurable damage. Not one more person should suffer as a result of President Trump’s bigoted order. Here are seven people who can attest to that:
In 2013, Saman fled Iran after having been arrested and tortured for his political activism several times. The UNHCR recognized him as a refugee in December 2015. By mid-2016, he was interviewed for resettlement in the United States. He was well on his way to moving to the U.S. when President Trump issued the travel ban. Now he doesn’t know if or when he will ever be allowed into the United States.
Saman’s case is particularly absurd because he fled from Iran due to his political activities. “The reason I left Iran is because I am in conflict with that government, but I am being treated as if I am part of that government,” he stated. “The ban is supposed to be about security; I am running away for my security, too.”
In 2016, Suleiman, a Sudanese doctor, and his wife had a baby. Not long after that, Suleiman’s wife traveled to Qatar so her parents could meet the baby. Three days before she was to return to the United States, President Trump signed the travel ban.
They received conflicting advice on whether or not his wife and child would be able to travel. At one point, Suleiman’s wife attempted to board a flight back home but was turned away. She was finally able to travel back home once a federal court in Seattle issued a nationwide stay on the ban.
The ban separated the family for a week and left them feeling vulnerable and scared. They will no longer travel outside the country for fear that they won’t be able to return.
Two years ago, Nadia left Iran. She is a transgender woman who faced abuse in Iran, including rape and severe harassment. Her family was ashamed of her, and some members of her family, beat her many times. She believed they were trying to kill her.
In April 2015, Nadia applied to the U.S. for resettlement as a refugee. By the beginning of this year, she had been granted refugee status. All she needed to do was complete a medical examination. But then President signed an executive order banning Muslims from certain countries from traveling to the U.S.
Now she doesn’t know what she’s going to do. Nadia had hoped to live in San Francisco, a city she’d heard was welcoming to LGBT people.
In 2014, Roya arrived in the United States from Iraq. She and her family are now US permanent residents. When her mother died in December 2016, Roya and her children visited Iraq to pay their respects. They could not have imagined that they would have any trouble returning to the United States, but that’s exactly what happened when President Trump signed the Muslim ban a week before they were due to arrive.
Roya, a doctor, was separated from her patients and her husband for a week while she sought the help of the U.S. embassy and various airlines. After much difficulty, she and her children were able to switch airlines and return to the country.
“I feel lucky that I was only affected for one week,” Roya said. “Just to think that I might have been separated from my husband for 90 days, or maybe permanently, was terribly scary.
After the birth of their baby, Hassan and his wife Darya visited Iran to introduce the child to her family. By this point, they had already resided in the United States, where Hassan was a research scholar at MIT, for over a year. Then the Muslim ban was signed.
Hassan and Darya rushed back to the United States — or at least they tried. They were denied boarding on a plane two days after the order was signed. Later, when a federal district court temporarily blocked the ban, they tried again, and were denied again.
They were finally able to board a plane in February, after having spent countless hours worrying over the possibility of not being able to return to the United States. The experience was expensive too — they spent $1,800 on flights trying to return.
When Nasrin, a naturalized US citizen who had been raised in the States, married her husband Behnam, she knew they would need to undergo a lengthy immigration process before being reunited.
They applied for a marriage visa, and over the next year, provided fingerprints, police reports, and other information to prove their marriage. Finally, Behnam received his visa. He had just booked his travel to Atlanta for mid-February when President Trump signed the travel bam.
Nasrin and Behnam didn’t know what to do. “It’s a terrible thing to have your life affected like that,” said Nasrin. “It was needless. It caused needless misery and pain. It was incomprehensible.”
They have since been reunited, thanks to a federal court ruling that suspended the implementation of the ban.
7. Rami and Omar
Teenage brothers from Yemen, Rami and Omar, fled their country as a result of an armed conflict there that threatened their lives. Though they hoped to be reunited with their mother Fatima in New York City, they ended up in Dijibouti, where they interviewed for a visa to come to the United States.
The interview went well, but then the travel ban was suddenly issued. This put their plans to reunite with their mother into doubt. Their visas have yet to be approved. They worry that the travel ban will be upheld in U.S. courts, preventing them from being reunited with their mother.
“These decisions made by President Trump have left us in a state of constant fear,” said Fatima. “We feel like suspects even though we’ve never done anything wrong in our lives.”