Mohamed Alahiry is pleased with the truth that he comes from a protracted line of Individuals. His household first got here to the US from Yemen in 1928, and, like his great-grandfathers, grandfather and father earlier than him, the 33-year-old calls the U.S. house.
And like the opposite males in his household, he had hoped to convey his spouse from Yemen to the US to boost their 4 daughters right here collectively. For now, his spouse and 12-year-old daughter stay in limbo overseas.
And with President Donald Trump’s journey ban nonetheless in impact, Alahiry isn’t positive if he’ll ever be capable to reunite together with his household.
Two years in the past this week, Trump signed Govt Order 13769, which barred residents from seven Muslim-majority nations, together with Yemen, from getting into the U.S. (It has been revised a number of occasions and challenged repeatedly in federal courts; final yr the ban was upheld by the Supreme Courtroom over decrease courtroom selections calling it unconstitutional.) The impact of the ban was chaotic and traumatic. Vacationers have been stranded at airports, newlyweds have been torn aside and civilians searching for medical consideration have been denied visas to enter the nation for therapy. Some Individuals have been pressured to make the troublesome resolution to depart the U.S. and transfer to war-torn nations simply to be with their households.
Two years later — regardless of makes an attempt by the courts to dam the ban, and regardless of an modification ostensibly created to present folks struggling hardship a authorized course of for immigration — households like Alahiry’s are nonetheless struggling to reunite.
“The American folks, together with and most significantly Congress members, want to understand that this [ban is still] unconstitutional,” mentioned Ayyad Algabyali, the director of advocacy at Yemeni American Retailers, an advocacy group that was based after the 2017 Yemeni bodega strike to assist native retailers and companies.
Alahiry and his spouse met in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, and have been married there in 2005. (The household requested to withhold her title.) For almost a decade, Alahiry cut up his time between Sana’a and New York Metropolis, the place he and his father owned a bodega within the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. When the Yemeni civil struggle broke out in 2014, Alahiry knew he wanted to convey their 4 kids to security in America.
The violence shortly escalated, forcing the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a to shut in early 2015 and refer all its Yemen instances to close by Djibouti. The airports shut down, making Djibouti accessible solely by a harmful 18-hour boat journey from Yemen’s coast. Scores of migrants drowned in makes an attempt to make the crossing. Alahiry’s spouse was terrified to embark on the journey with their kids, who have been toddlers on the time.
Her visa utility caught in limbo in Djibouti, she and her youngsters remained in Yemen till 2017, once they fled to Egypt. Alahiry requested that his spouse’s case be transferred to the U.S. Embassy there, however by then Trump’s ban was in place and Alahiry’s spouse, unable to return to Yemen and barred from immigrating to the US, was stranded.
Final October, issues went from unhealthy to worse. Whereas driving together with his now Eight-year-old daughter on a go to to Cairo, Alahiry acquired right into a extreme automobile accident. He broke his leg, and she or he fractured her rib cage and foot.
Alahiry and his daughter have been taken to New York Metropolis to be handled for his or her accidents. Two of her sisters, all U.S. residents, got here to New York, too. (The eldest remained with their mom in Cairo.) After seven surgical procedures, Alahiry was unable to work. He was ultimately pressured to ship two of the ladies to reside together with his brother in North Carolina.
His household grew to become much more scattered.
“My daughters are all the time on the telephone crying to one another ― this one needs to go right here and the opposite one needs to go there. There’s nothing in my fingers to do. I can’t even deal with myself today,” Alahiry instructed HuffPost.
In one other try to convey his spouse to the U.S., he tried to benefit from an exception to the journey ban that enables nationals from the banned nations to use for a waiver if these residents are in a position to show hardship — a results of the June 2018 Supreme Courtroom ruling.
The Yemeni American Retailers Affiliation submitted a waiver letter on Alahiry’s behalf and requested that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo expedite his spouse’s interview and subsequent visa utility. The embassy refused.
“This waiver is a sham. Waivers aren’t being granted to anybody,” mentioned Algabyali. Algabyali, who oversees Alahiry’s case, mentioned his group has come throughout tons of of instances that will qualify for a waiver and hasn’t seen a single household obtain one.
A waiver, the one and solely authorized clause meant to show that the ban isn’t discriminatory, is notoriously onerous to get.
In an op-ed printed in The New York Occasions final week, Betsy Fisher, the coverage director of the Worldwide Refugee Help Venture, and Samantha Energy, the previous U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sharply criticized the waiver course of and mentioned the waivers seem to “be given reliably solely when a lot publicity is delivered to bear.”
Alahiry’s spouse is scheduled for an interview on the embassy in Cairo on April 17. Again within the U.S., all Alahiry and three of his daughters can do is wait.