Travelers, students, medical professionals, and permanent US residents targeted by Donald Trump’s unconstitutional, immigration-related executive orders have been returning to the US, some following a weekend of stinging losses for his administration in the courts, and a chaotic ten days overall.
“Families and immigration advocacy groups were buoyed twice over the weekend,” reports the New York Times, “first when the Seattle judge temporarily blocked the executive order, and again when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco denied the government’s attempt to gain an emergency stay.”
Last Friday, Ali Vayeghan, a green card holder who was not allowed into the US due to Trump’s Muslim ban, flew back home to LAX to cheers. According to the LA Times, “Vayeghan’s successful return was the result of a federal judge’s emergency ruling overturning the government’s decision to ban him, making Vayeghan the first person denied entry to be allowed into the country after a legal challenge to the White House’s executive order.”
6 days after being detained at LAX then sent back to Iran under Trump’s EO, Ali Vayeghan becomes 1st allowed back in after legal challenge. pic.twitter.com/NqzWDjokbj
— Kim Baldonado (@KimNBCLA) February 3, 2017
Similar joyous stories have played out in airports across the nation since. Among them is an accomplished Iranian-American woman who has called this country home since 2010. Nazanin Zinouri, who has a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Clemson University, was not allowed to re-enter the United States after visiting her family in Iran. From “Trump ban blocked, spokesman says Iranian woman back in US,” the Washington Post:
Zinouri cleared through an immigration check in Boston and expected to return home Monday to Clemson, where the 29-year-old works for startup technology firm Modjoul, company founder Eric Martinez said in a phone interview. Zinouri had spent about 30 hours traveling from the Iranian capital, where she had gone late last month to visit family.
Zinouri, who is a legal U.S. resident, said last week she was taken off a plane in Dubai days after Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning entry from citizens of Iran and six other nations.
Zinouri said she rushed to return to the United States before the Trump administration could persuade other judges to reinstate the ban.
“The last 48 hours have felt a lot longer than 48 hours,” she told Greenville television station WHNS . “It was chaos, it was a lot stress, it was a lot of shock and it was hearing the rumors, and then going from the rumors to actually something happening that would possibly affect my entire life and trying to somehow address the problem.”
Supporters amplified Nazanin’s story, which caught the attention of her Senator, Lindsey Graham, who said Nazanin “is exactly the type of person we want to be part of America. We’ve made a mistake.”
— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) January 29, 2017
— modjoul (@modjoul) February 3, 2017
— Susan Zimmerman (@bohicketroad) February 3, 2017
— The Tiger News (@thetigerCU) February 5, 2017
— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) February 6, 2017
Others reuniting with loved ones in the US include one man who had not seen his brother in nearly a decade. Another was a visa holder who is set on conducting important scientific research at the prestigious Stanford University. More from ”Travelers denied entry a week ago, now arriving in US,” in the Washington Post:
Fariba Tajrostami, a 32-year-old painter from Iran, came through the gate at New York’s Kennedy Airport on Sunday with a huge smile and tears in her eyes as her brothers greeted her with joyful hugs.
“I’m very happy. I haven’t seen my brothers for nine years,” she said.
Tajrostami had tried to fly to the U.S. from Turkey over a week ago, but was turned away.
“I was crying and was so disappointed,” she said. “Everything I had in mind, what I was going to do, I was so disappointed about everything. I thought it was all over.”
Tajrostami said she hopes to study art in the U.S. and plans to join her husband in Dallas soon. He moved from Iran six months ago, has a green card and is working at a car dealership.
Iranian researcher Nima Enayati, a Ph.D. candidate at a university in Milan, was prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. on Jan. 30. He had a visa to conduct research on robotic surgery at Stanford University in California.
On Sunday night, he arrived in New York.
“It feels great finally I’m here,” Enayati said at JFK. “Considering the last 10 days we had no idea if we’ll be able to make it or not.”
Enayati said he feels safe for now, but worries that the travel ban could inhibit research in the future.
“We always had this open collaboration around the world,” he said. “We never had concerns about whether we would be able to go somewhere physically or not.”
— Vernon Davis (@VernonDavis) February 5, 2017
Wael Izzeldin, a second-year resident at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, was greeted by his colleagues and supporters upon his return to JFK. Wael had been visiting his mother in Sudan for the first time in three years when he found himself unable to return back home to continue his lifesaving work. From “Lifting of Travel Ban Sets Off Rush to Reach US,” in the New York Times:
On the floor of Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport, Wael Izzeldin, 6, clutched a green marker as he wrote a welcome sign for his father’s best friend, Dr. Kamal Fadlalla. Dr. Fadlalla is a second-year resident at Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and had been on vacation visiting his mother in Sudan, his first time home in three years.
When Dr. Fadlalla appeared, the boy went running across the arrivals hall, leapt and wrapped himself around the doctor, crushing the tiny sign.
Dr. Fadlalla was ebullient but fatigued. Though he holds a visa for people in specialty professions, he had been turned away at the airport, and spent a week marooned in Sudan. Around him, members of his union, Committee of Interns and Residents, wearing white lab coats, cheered.
“I’m glad justice won,” he said, adding that he was happy to return to his family and patients. “I need to get back to my work.”
Residents at interfaith hospital in brooklyn support their colleague, Dr. Kamal Fadlalla, stranded in Sudan, after going to visit his family pic.twitter.com/3ZVFGdIYjo
— دكتور برورروم!! (@iboadel) January 31, 2017
— Robert E Cornegy, Jr (@RobertCornegyJr) February 5, 2017
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) February 6, 2017