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Meet The Families Denied Entry To The U.S. Because Of Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

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Meet The Families Denied Entry To The U.S. Because Of Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

Immigration, Muslim families, Trump travel ban

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban has torn apart Dr. Abubaker Hassan’s family.

A few months ago, his wife, Sara Hamad, took their infant daughter Alma from their Detroit home to visit relatives in Qatar. Hassan is in his second year of an internal medicine residency program at Detroit Medical Center, an inner-city hospital that serves a low-income and minority community. He and his wife are citizens of Sudan and they’re both in this country on visas — Hassan on a J-1 for work and study-based exchange visitor programs and his wife on a J-2 for dependents. Together, they came to Detroit, where Hamad gave birth in September, making Alma an American citizen.

When the baby was a month and a half old, Hamad took her to visit her family in Qatar, the country where Hamad was born and raised. It is traditional in Sudanese culture for a new mother to be surrounded by her own mother and family after giving birth. Hassan stayed behind to work.

On Monday, Hamad and Alma were supposed to land in Detroit after being away for three months. But on Sunday, even though the baby is a U.S. citizen and eligible to fly back, Hamad was stopped at the airport in Qatar and prevented from traveling under an executive order that bars foreigners from Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria from entering the U.S. for 90 days. (Citizens and permanent residents are allowed in — but about 90,000 visa holders, including those with tourist visas, are not.)

“I cannot leave to join my family, and my family, they cannot come back to join me,” Hassan, 36, said. “It’s a really difficult situation. Frankly we don’t know what to do.”

The first reports about the executive order, signed by Trump on Friday, were about foreigners hoping to travel to the U.S. for job opportunities, including interpreters who had worked for American forces. Now, it is becoming clear that the order is separating families of ordinary people whose mistake was to pick the wrong dates to travel.

Since Friday, ProPublica has been chronicling the travel ban’s effects. As part of that effort, we’ve asked those impacted to get in touch. So far, nearly 150 people from all seven countries affected by the ban have written in. (We’ve already written a few stories from the submissions.) Even people outside of those seven countries — Mexico, Malaysia, and Pakistan, for example — wrote in to express worry that their visas or green cards would be challenged at some point in the future, though no such plan has been discussed publicly.

Submissions came from people here legally that were visiting their home countries and now are unable to return to the U.S.; people here legally that are now afraid to leave the U.S. and not be able to return; and dozens of stories in which families are being torn apart.

Among them was Shadi Darani, who had left Iran to pursue a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering in Michigan and hadn’t seen her 68-year-old mother for two years. Obtaining permission for her mother to travel to the U.S. had taken nine months.

Darani’s mother, Fatemeh Sheikhi, left Iran aboard a Qatar Airlines flight about 13 hours before Trump signed the order. When she reached her first destination, Doha, in Qatar, she texted Darani and her sister, who is studying for her doctorate at the University of Delaware, asking them to have a jacket ready for her when they met in Philadelphia.

Darani’s sister was waiting with the jacket at the airport. But when her mother landed at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, it was too late.

“My sister was crying and begging the security to let her meet or call my mom so she could at least explain to her what is happening and calm her down,” Darani wrote in an email to ProPublica, explaining that her mother doesn’t understand English well. “But they didn’t allow it. Just feet away from one another, after years, after so many days and nights dreaming this moment.”

An airline employee told Darani’s sister that they would be returning her mother to Iran, but didn’t allow her to have any direct contact with her mother and didn’t disclose what flight her mother would be put back on.

“They took her phone, and we couldn’t even see her,” Darani said. The only thing airport officials did was to pass on a necklace their mother had brought as a gift. Darani said her sister has been wearing it every day since as a reminder of what happened and of her mom’s love

“She said that the moment that she was in Philadelphia and knew my sister is there to pick her up, but the security didn’t let them meet was the worst part. She said she felt heart broken, desperate and devastated,” Darani wrote in her email.

Darani’s mother’s visa was canceled. To come back, she would have to apply for a new one once the ban is lifted.

Batoul Elamin’s mother didn’t get as far as the U.S. For four years, Elamin, a Sudanese citizen, and her brother, now a U.S. citizen, worked to get a green card for their mother. Elamin has been in the U.S. studying since 2006 or 2007 — first preparing for examinations, then as a pediatrics resident in Oklahoma City, and then as a neonatology fellow at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Elamin is now as a neonatologist in Virginia, serving an area outside D.C. that doesn’t have enough doctors, in a program that enables her to remain in the country.

The visa for Elamin’s mother, Bumsur Zain, finally came through a few weeks ago and she was visiting Elamin’s other brother in Saudi Arabia before heading to the U.S. Now she can’t continue her planned trip. “It’s just very frustrating,” Elamin said. “She missed out on my wedding here in the United States” in 2015 because her visa application was pending.

Elamin said her mother’s visa is valid for three months but next month she will need another medical checkup, a prerequisite for receiving a green card. “A lot of things are in the air,” Elamin said. “Part of me believes that things will go away in a week or 10 days, and that people who already have a visa and have a lawful reason to come in can come in. Part of me thinks that it’s not going to get any better and she will lose her opportunity to come to the U.S., and I don’t know whether it will be safe for me to go back home. It’s really very upsetting.”

“I feel suffocated because I feel like I’m a prisoner. I can’t leave because if I leave there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be able to come back,” Elamin said.

For Hassan, the Detroit medical trainee whose wife is in Qatar, the problems are piling up. Since his daughter is an American and not a citizen of Qatar, she can only get a one-month visit visa, renewable once. As a result, Hamad and Alma have already had to travel to a neighboring country and come back to ensure the baby’s stay remains legal. They will have to do so again, Hassan said.

Hassan also notes that he’s missing important moments in his daughter’s life. He knew he would miss some with his wife away for three months, but he’s worried he will miss more.

“She’s passing through the milestones and I need to watch that. … The simple things: When you start to smile, first crawl, now she’s transitioning from formula to solid foods. These simple milestones, there’s no coming back.”

Hassan noted that he works at a federal hospital run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and his brother, now an American citizen, is in the U.S. Army reserves in basic training in Louisiana.

The whole situation is distressing, he said. “My mind is not clear,” Hassan said. “I’m very distracted. I’m thinking about taking time off to focus on trying to solve these issues and to be safe with my patients.”

IMAGE: Rosalie Gurna, 9, holds a sign in support of Muslim family members as people protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslim majority countries at the International terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon



  1. Juicyfruit January 31, 2017


  2. Daniel Jones February 1, 2017

    Trump has ordered people to say it’s a total success, it’s so shameful that the only one who did (aside from the Lie Secretary) asked to be kept anonymous.

    1. Margaretroliver February 1, 2017

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj443d:
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  3. Eleanore Whitaker February 1, 2017

    Trump’s own mother was an immigrant and he himself is an anchor baby. She wasn’t an American citizen when he was born.

    Trump has a reason for going after refugees and immigrants, he needs all the money he can raise to pay off Putin and the only way to do that is to take control of government, the SC and anything else he can get his syrupy mitts on. If more people enter the US, that is LESS money for him and his Republican Mafiosi to flush to their coal mining, big oil and less money in Trump’s Oil investment portfolio. Not to mention less money going to he comrade in arms Putin.

  4. CPAinNewYork February 1, 2017

    All these stories would be unnecessary if the Muslims had not embarked on a “jihad” against the United States and other civilized countries.

    These scumbags fly planes into buildings, they execute people by cutting off their heads, they run into crowded places and blow themselves up, all in the name of “Allah.”

    The problem lies not in western civilization. It lies with the evil Muslims and the bleeding heart liberals who excuse the savage acts of the Muslims by criticizing our efforts to defend ourselves.

    1. sharon1026 February 1, 2017

      Isn’t it funny that the countries he didn’t include actually put terrorists over here and did us great harm…Countries like Saudi Arabia….9/11. And isn’t it also funny that he just happens to have business interests in those same countries? Coincidental? I think not….

      1. CPAinNewYork February 1, 2017

        It’s not “funny.” It’s proof that Trump is little more than a sleazy businessman who doesn’t see how his actions cheapen the presidency.

        He’s purely profit-oriented. Nothing except the pursuit of money means anything to him.

        1. sharon1026 February 1, 2017

          You know I didn’t mean funny, haha, don’t you?

    2. greenlantern1 February 1, 2017

      Precisely why we need the death penalty!
      Both “Muslims”, like Jihadi John, and “Christians”, like Karla Faye Tucker, should face that!

    3. dpaano February 1, 2017

      These “people” did NOT fly airplanes into buildings…..THOSE people came from Saudi Arabia, one of the countries that 45 did NOT put on his list! Additionally, the other few terrorist acts that have occurred were done by terrorists from countries like Kosovo, Pakistan, etc., again, countries not named in 45’s list!!
      I don’t understand why you seem to blame people for terrorist acts when NONE of them came from any of the countries that 45 has listed in his ban!!! Apparently, you haven’t heard…..not all Muslims are evil or are terrorists!! There are many in this country who are loyal American citizens, are hard working, have given to this country! You, my idiot friend, don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s apparent that you are a racist much like the other followers of 45! I wonder where YOUR family came from…..unless you’re an American Indian, I can assure you that they were once immigrants too!

      1. CPAinNewYork February 1, 2017

        Those people must bear the responsibility for the crimes that are being perpetrated in their name, because they are doing nothing to stop them.

        I clearly remember seeing Palestinian women dancing on television in celebration of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
        The Muslims hate us, probably because of our backing Israel and its ethnic cleansing of Palestine immediately after World War II.

        Are you aware that the Palestinians refer to us as “Crusaders”? It’s not a compliment. Old hatreds die hard.

        Regardless of the reasons for the Muslim hatred of the West, we need to protect ourselves. The best way to do it is to deny Muslims access to our territory. Your approach is suicidal.

        I want to see us pull out of the Middle East entirely. Our only contact with the Muslims should be to buy their oil. We don’t need troops there to do that.

        Once we seal our borders against the Muslims, we can address the question of how best to eliminate the threat posed by the home grown crap.

        1. Independent1 February 1, 2017

          Of the 25 mass murders committed in America over the past 2 decades only 3 were even associated with immigrants and more than 80% of them were committed by Christians or atheists/no specific religion.

          Immigrants (and that includes Muslims) commit 1/8th the crimes of native-born Americans like you. And that includes far less murders and crimes requiring incarceration. You are very misguided!!

          1. CPAinNewYork February 2, 2017

            And by eliminating the Muslims and illegals we’ll reduce the death rate even more.

            Incidentally, if as you claim immigrants comprise 12.5% of the perpetrators of crimes but comprise less that 12.5% of the population, then their crime rate is greater than it proportionally should be.

          2. Independent1 February 2, 2017

            I never said that immigrants, including Muslims commit 12.5% of the crimes. I said they commit 87.5% fewer crimes than native-borns as individuals; you can’t extrapolate that into assuming they commit 12.5% of the crimes that are actually committed; and when they do commit a crime, the crimes they commit are 2-3 times less likely to be crimes that require jail time. Which means, that when immigrants commit crimes, they are most often petty crimes – NOT MURDERS OR RAPES OR VIOLENT CRIMES!!!

            So getting rid of the immigrants that have actually been the major reason for the drastic reduction in the crime rate, will only result IN DRIVING UP THE CRIME RATE!!!

            Get an education somewhere – you’re CPA proves that even supposed intelligent people can be total idiots!!!

      2. idamag February 1, 2017

        Also the terrorist attack on 9-11 was caused by our supplying Israel with nuclear weapons.

    4. I Am Helpy February 1, 2017

      Hmmmm yes collective guilt for a crime. How un-American of you.

      You are garbage.

      1. CPAinNewYork February 1, 2017

        And you are sh!t.

        1. I Am Helpy February 1, 2017

          Oh no, a bigot thinks I’m a bad person.

      2. idamag February 1, 2017

        And when this leads to another attack on this country, blame the isolationists who think they and their race are the krema de la krema.

    5. idamag February 1, 2017

      Since hitler was a German and they embarked on attacks on several countries to take over the world. They committed horrible atrocities on human beings. They were a Christian nation. So, we should ban Germans, Christians and white people from our country.

  5. greenlantern1 February 1, 2017

    Ever hear of fellow Americans Ray Kot, Sunnil Rattu and Martin Capallero?
    They were murdered at Trump Taj Mahal?
    Ever hear of Nixon’s “hard hat” riots?
    70 Americans, including 4 policemen, were hurt in that!
    Ever hear of police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo?
    They were murdered by Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller!
    Their gang leader was Cliven Bundy!

  6. Liam Nolan February 1, 2017

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  7. dpaano February 1, 2017

    This is all pretty sad when you realize that the countries that 45 did NOT name are the same countries that have sent people here who have committed terrorist acts! But, those who are innocent and are only banned because they are Muslim is terrible! I feel for these people, and it hurts me to see our country acting so badly because of one man! His so-called “followers” don’t seem to understand either the damage that he’s doing to this country and to these people! All they care about, much like him, is themselves! I find it hard to understand how someone’s mother could be banned just because she comes from a country that is predominantly Muslim….or, a child kept from her father because of this ridiculous ban!!! These people are NOT terrorists by any sense of the word….they are people like you and I, with families that they would like to be reunited with!! The ONLY thing that this is helping is that it is giving ISIS the fodder it needs to aid in their recruiting efforts here in the U.S.!!! It’s not making this country any safer than it already was!

    1. idamag February 1, 2017

      This type of behavior will make us less safe. Attacking Iraq created ISIS.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 1, 2017

        Our inconsistent behavior in Iraq, and inconsistencies in many cases in other parts of the world on various occasions, only deepened hostilities and left scars that eventually led the aggrieved to be resentful and plan some sort of retaliation. ISIS was a result already waiting to happen due to a corrupt perception of Islam festering in the midst of many Muslim communities. Our mishandling of events in Iraq, and a history of ill-will from the past, just hastened the growth of ISIS.

      2. Dominick Vila February 2, 2017

        Especially when we carried out the Sunni purge, and removed high government officials and senior military officers from their posts, and replaced them with Shias aligned to Iran. That purge, and the anti-Sunni retaliation that followed, forced over a million Sunnis to flee their country, and many retaliated by creating ISIL.

  8. idamag February 1, 2017

    To all you, Muslims, who were denied entry into this country: I want to apologize for the low class ignorance that made this happen.

  9. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 1, 2017

    Let’s consider the case of Hamad and Hassan which was first cited. Hamad has family in Qatar, Hassan and Hamad are citizens of Sudan now, their child is born in Detroit, and by US law the child is a citizen of the US.
    Now, Trump being illogical and very dense on the subject of citizenship(his paternal grandfather illegally entered the country by the way), doesn’t have the mental energy to go the extra mile to think things through, and so he never took time to consider the repercussions of his retarded emotional state being allowed to rush him into a rash decision by issuing the ban. Does he expect to the US-citizen infant child to fly to America on her own, while the parents, simply for being Sudanese citizens, are required to stay behind? Who will take care of the child and see that she is escorted safely to relatives/friends back in the US?

    Complex problems and scenarios are clearly out of Trump’s league, and far beyond his ken of comprehension. I think even Mike Pence might have foreseen the tangled mess Trump has created, although one can’t be sure.

    Trump would do better, relatively speaking, staying in a business realm where he can wreak havoc on those foolish enough to do business with him.

  10. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 1, 2017

    In addition to what I wrote earlier, it bears repeating that Donald J.Trump is one vindictive and cruel person whose sole aim in life since his youth has been to look out for himself and to make money. Throughout his campaign, one could clearly see that there were never any heavenly principles or ideals associated with his atrocious pre-Election behavior—just a cold business/materialistic focus, pure ego, and a desire to further enhance his image.

    And this order, and all his previous ill-advised actions and rhetoric, are just a glimpse of the enormity of a severely damaged and perhaps irreparably damaged soul which was deprived all his life of spiritual nourishment. Why else would he represent a withered tree that no longer is capable of yielding “fruit”.

    “Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance. The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God—exalted be His glory. Were the trees of men’s lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of Justice would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind. The Water for these trees is the living water of the sacred Words uttered by the Beloved of the world. In one instant are such trees planted and in the next their branches shall, through the outpourings of the showers of divine mercy, have reached the skies. A dried-up tree, however, hath never been nor will be worthy of any mention.”

    (from a Tablet written originally in the Arabic by Baha’u’llah while still a Prisoner of the Ottoman Empire and Persian Government towards the end of the 19th Century)

    So, how does Donald’s state compare with the above passage?

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