Banned From U.S.: ‘You Need to Go Back to Your Country’

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January 28, 2017

President Trump’s executive order barring refugees from entering the United States and halting entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — set off a cascade of reaction around the world.

A protester at Kennedy Airport in New York on Saturday.

January 28, 2017

President Trump’s executive order barring refugees from entering the United States and halting entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — set off a cascade of reaction around the world.

A protester at Kennedy Airport in New York on Saturday.

Social media shook with emotion. Headlines were rewritten around the world. Legal scholars debated the order’s scope. But its most immediate effect could be quantified on a human scale: refugees and other immigrants from the seven countries, some on their way to the United States on Friday when Mr. Trump signed the order, who were no longer able to enter the United States.

Here are some of their stories.

Hameed Khalid Darweesh, Iraq

Mr. Darweesh, a husband and father of three who worked for the United States military in Iraq for about a decade, was detained after arriving at Kennedy Airport on Friday night. He was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20. When he filed for it, he said he had been directly targeted because of his work for the U.S. as an interpreter, engineer and contractor.

Although Mr. Darweesh’s wife and children were allowed into the country, he was initially detained. Mr. Darweesh was released on Saturday after lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal court seeking freedom for him, as well as for another Iraqi who was detained at the airport.

Speaking to reporters and some protesters who gathered outside Kennedy Airport, Mr. Darweesh called America the greatest nation in the world and said he was thankful for the people who had worked on his behalf. “This is the humanity, this is the soul of America,” he said. “This is what pushed me to move, leave my country and come here.”

Unnamed family of 6, Syria

The family members have been living in a refugee camp in Turkey, and were scheduled to fly to the United States on Monday, according US Together, a refugee resettlement agency quoted in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The agency had found an apartment for them to rent with another family of Syrian refugees in Cleveland.

Those plans have been canceled in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s order.

“It was going to be really perfect,” Danielle Drake, a community relations manager for US Together, told the newspaper. “I can’t even imagine how the family feels right now.”

Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, Iran

Mr. Saravi, a young scientist in Iran, had been scheduled to travel to Boston, where he was awarded a fellowship at Harvard to study cardiovascular medicine, according to Thomas Michel, the professor who was to supervise his research. Then the visas for Mr. Saravi and his wife were suspended, Professor Michel said.

“This outstanding young scientist has enormous potential to make contributions that will improve our understanding of heart disease, and he has already been thoroughly vetted,” Professor Michel wrote to The New York Times. “This country and this city have a long history of providing research training to the best young scientists in the world, many of whom have stayed in the U.S.A. and made tremendous contributions in biomedicine and other disciplines.”

Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, Iraq

Mr. Alshawi, who worked for a United States contractor in Iraq, was detained after he landed at Kennedy Airport on Friday. He had flown from Stockholm to New York, en route to Texas to see his wife and son.

“He gave his package and his passport to an airport officer, and they didn’t talk to him, they just put him in a room,” his wife told The New York Times. “He told me that they forced him to get back to Iraq. He asked for his lawyer and to apply for an asylum case. And they told him: ‘You can’t do that. You need to go back to your country.’”

Ali Abdi, Iran

Mr. Abdi, an Iranian Ph.D. student at Yale with permanent residency in the United States, was left in limbo in Dubai after leaving the United States for Afghanistan on Jan. 22, according to The Guardian.

In statement he posted on his Facebook page that the publication quoted, Mr. Abdi said he had been headed to Afghanistan for ethnographic research. The executive order, he wrote, “is likely to prevent permanent residents like me from returning to the country where I am a student, where I have to defend my thesis,” according to The Guardian.

“Meanwhile, it’s not yet clear whether the consulate of Afghanistan in Dubai would issue the visa I need in order to stay in Kabul for a year,” he wrote, “and I cannot stay in Dubai for long or my UAE visa would expire. It’s not wise to go to Iran either.”

Travelers, Cairo

Six travelers — five from Iraq and one from Yemen — who were on their way to New York were prevented from boarding a flight in Cairo , on Saturday even though they had valid United States visas, Reuters reported.

The Iraqi travelers began their journey in Erbil, part of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and were in Cairo on a layover, Reuters said. The Yemeni traveler arrived at the airport from elsewhere in the Egyptian capital.

All six were told they could not board EgyptAir flight 985 to Kennedy Airport. The Iraqis were being detained at the airport in Cairo until they could be returned to their country of origin, Reuters said. It had no information on the status of the Yemeni traveler.


Courtesy: NY Times

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