Iraqi, Yemeni families torn apart yearn for end to travel ban
Hassan Khalifeh | Monday, 02.13.2017, 04:49 PM

The Aziz family reunited after two sons were detained at Dulles airport. Photo courtesy of the Aziz family.
DETROIT — President Trump's Jan. 27 executive order restricting travel from seven predominately Muslim countries sparked immediate rallies and protests. 
Lawsuits questioning the legality of the order have been filed in federal courts, while many Detroiters with friends and family trying to travel to the U.S. remain in limbo. 
Though Trump has since said the travel ban does not include green card holders, many local Yemenis, Syrians and Iraqis are still looking for additional clarification to what their future in this country means. 
M. Baqir Muhyedeen was born in Canada, but now he's a Detroiter, working in the city and soon to graduate from Eastern Michigan University. 
His mother lives here, too, and plans to return from a visit to Iraq this weekend in preparation for her American citizenship swearing-in ceremony later this month. 
But now her future is in disarray and her son has a lot on his mind this week. 
Muhyedeen said when he first learned that the executive order had been signed, it was not a big deal to him. In fact, Jan. 27 was his one-year anniversary of having a green card. 
But at around 4 in the morning, he received a phone call from his mother, who was "on the verge of tears." 
She was set to fly to Detroit Metro Airport, but uncertainty turned to distress and a lot of consulting with lawyers for the next 48 hours, he said. 
"They keep making changes," Muhyedeen said. "And it seems to have gotten easier with new updates the White House keeps releasing. However, airlines around the world don't know what to do." 
Fortunately for the family, the mother was able to book a flight to Detroit through Boston. However, she will have to fly through two cities in the Middle East first. Afraid of breaking U.S. law, some Middle Eastern airlines are not flying people if the destination is America. 
Although Trump did follow through on his campaign promises, many could not have predicted such a detrimental order like a Muslim immigration ban. 
Muhyedeen said he didn't expect his life to be changed within the president's first 10 days, adding that the country will go through "some soul searching; it's going to be a shaky ride." 
While Muhyedeen's mother was at her home in Iraq when the executive order was signed, another family could do nothing to help their situation. 
Expecting to reunite with their father, two brothers did not expect to be welcomed with detainment at an American airport. 
Tareq Aziz, 21, and his brother Ammar, 19, took a snapshot while in the air, en route to Detroit from Yemen on Jan. 27. Oblivious to Trump's executive order, they expected that they'd greeted by their father, Aqel Aziz, 49, and head to Flint, where he lives and runs a few gas stations. 
Yemen is among the countries included in the travel ban. What's more, the order also effectively revoked all visas from the seven countries. 
The brothers arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. for a scheduled layover – and were detained. 
Aqel Aziz waited at Detroit Metro Airport for hours, but Tareq and Ammar were nowhere to be found, he told The AANews. 
An attorney quickly got on the case and learned the sons' whereabouts. 
Aziz said his sons were taken to a room at the Dulles airport, their passports seized and immigrant visas revoked. They were soon due to receive green cards, but were given two options: To head back to Yemen or sign an agreement to give up their status in the U.S. and wait until both nations' governments worked things out. 
Customs officials bullied the brothers into signing that document, telling them it was their best option, Aziz said. 
They would have to fly to Djibouti, Ethiopia and back to Yemen or be arrested. "It was between signing a paper or a death sentence," Aziz said, adding that his sons, facing both a language barrier and unfamiliarity with the law, were scared. 
"What happened to America?" he said his sons asked. 
Tareq andAmmar were saved by the gavel on Friday, Feb. 3, when a federal judge in Seattle ruled to temporarily reinstate about 60,000 revoked visas and allow flightbound travelers from the banned countries to be allowed in. 
They received a redeeming welcome on Monday, as a crowd from the local Yemeni community filled the international arrival terminal at Metro Airport. 
Now, Aziz said he is just glad his sons are safe and can join him in pursuit of the American Dream. 
He urged the Trump administration to revisit the executive order and implement policy that would go after dangerous individuals, instead of breaking up families or sending refugee back to their demise. 
A Detroit airport official said the Aziz brothers could be the first to land in the U.S. following the Seattle jud

Hassan Khalifeh

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