After the latest order by the new US president, Donald Trump, to ban citizens from seven countries from issuing visas to the US or entering it, thousands of people were stranded and unable to return to their homes to join their families, to study or to work.
Trump’s order bans Syrian refugees, claiming they are “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and suspends the refugee admissions program for all countries for 120 days. It will also suspend the issue of visas to nationals of countries where the US believes they do not provide enough information on an applicant to decide whether or not they are a security or public safety threat.
Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here. We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said in a speech at the Pentagon.
Trump’s executive action fulfills his campaign promise to bar Syrian refugees and partially fulfills his vow to temporarily ban Muslims from the U.S. — a promise he later amended to apply only to people from certain Muslim-majority countries.
The order means that about 500,000 green card holders who reside in the U.S. but are originally from one of the seven countries will need a waiver to return to their homes, White House officials said Saturday. It also applies to people from the seven countries who hold dual citizenship and are not U.S. citizens. This means that people of both French and Yemeni nationality, for example, would be denied entry.
During his run for president, Trump repeatedly suggested that Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants are likely terrorists.
He used the hate speech and the fear of terrorism threat to attack the majority of the US’s little-educated population, promising them with a country free of “foreigners and terrorists” if they elected him, in a way the follow’s Hitler’s strategy that led to the creation of Nazi party and him being the sole leader of Germany.
Syrian doctor who helped fighting polio
A young Syrian doctor who stared down a polio epidemic and has worked tirelessly healing others during the Syrian crisis is now prevented from returning to his former life due to Trump’s ban.
The order has blocked Dr. Khaled Almilaji from returning to the U.S., where he is enrolled in a master’s program in public health at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and may end up bringing him to Canada.
“It’s very obvious that it’s a message. It’s discrimination,” said Almilaji. “And [Trump] chose the weakest countries so he will not affect his business.”
The 35-year-old Almilaji, in addition to his studies, also works with the Canadian International Medical Relief Organization, a medical charity that has delivered health care in Syria during the six-year-long civil war.
Almilaji helped coordinate a program that delivered vaccines to 1.4 million Syrian children to help deal with a 2013 outbreak of polio.
He left the U.S. on Jan. 1 and went to Gaziantep, a southern Turkish city near the border with Syria. Almilaji said he wanted to check in on work with the Canadian charity and renew his Turkish residency permit.
But when it was time to return to Rhode Island for the winter semester, which began on Jan. 25, he was told by American officials he could not travel because of the new restrictions.
Almilaji said keeping people out of the U.S. is “hurtful” to American interests.
“It is a great and important country … because they are supporting other people, because they love other people, because they send messages of inclusiveness and of peace,” he said.
Almilaji said he remains hopeful that he will be granted a new visa to allow him to return to this studies in Rhode Island, where his pregnant Syrian-born wife remains.
But he is considering his options if that does not happen.
Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said earlier this week that Canada would offer temporary refuge to any people stranded because of the U.S. restrictions.
Almilaji said it’s possible he would apply to a university in Canada in an effort to complete his studies.
Iranian opposition member and academic stranded
Duke University professor and Iranian dissident Mohsen Kadivar left his home in North Carolina 10 days ago to attend a fellowship program in Germany.
Now, stranded in Berlin as a result of new U.S. immigration rules, the longstanding critic of Iran’s ruling clerical establishment does not know whether or when he can rejoin his wife and two children in the United States.
He said from Berlin he was concerned about his family and career in America.
“I have a fellowship in Germany until July … but what happens after that is not clear. I am concerned about my future. I don’t know whether I will be able to return to the United States as a green card holder Iranian national,” he said.
“My two children and wife live in the United States … My wife was planning to join me in Berlin, where I arrived on July 18 and was supposed to stay until July … But we were advised by the university’s immigration lawyers to cancel her trip to Berlin,” Kadivar said.
Kadivar, a research professor of Islamic studies at Duke University in North Carolina since 2009, is an outspoken critic of Iran’s hardline clerical leadership.
The 58-year-old, who was jailed for a year in Iran in 1999 for “disseminating lies and disturbing public opinion”, has called for more autonomy from religion in political life and has been a staunch critic of Iran’s most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In 2001, he traveled to the United States with an invitation from the Islamic Law Program of Harvard Law School for research and teaching. He was awarded the Hellman-Hammett Prize for writers deemed to be at risk from political persecution.
Kadivar said Trump’s travel ban was “humiliating and discriminatory”.
“I have received so many emails from my colleagues, who regretted the ban … Iranians have never been involved in any terrorist act in the United States.”
There are an estimated 1 million Iranian-Americans in the United States, including those with U.S. citizenship, dual nationality and green card holders, so Trump’s executive order could create myriad travel complications.
Those two situations are examples from thousands of similar ones, in which people who worked and studied for whole or parts of their lives in America were prevented from going back to continue their lives, or refugees who face great dangers lost the only hope they have been waiting for in entering the US and start a normal life again.