Family separated by Muslim ban reunited as others begin legal action

30th Aug 2019
Family separated by Muslim ban reunited as others begin legal action

Emergency protest against Muslim ban at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s McNamara Terminal on January 29, 2017. (Photo: Gregory Varnum/WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Yemeni-American family that was separated by President Trump’s Muslim ban were reunited on August 5. In October 2017, Saleh Almuganahi, an American citizen of Yemeni descent, said his wife was interviewed by US consular officials in Djibouti. She even received a document stating “Your visa is approved.”

The Government just had to print it. That never happened. Two months later the Trump Administration’s travel ban went into effect, and the family have been stuck in Yemen through the course of a violent war. The ban allows for visas to be issued on a case-by-case basis with a waiver under certain conditions.

According to the proclamation signed by Trump, waivers are intended for those who can demonstrate that their entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the
national interest and for whom denial of entry would cause ‘undue hardship.’

Last month, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) sued the Trump Administration for retroactively applying the Muslim Ban to revoke an approved visa for Almuganahi’s wife.

Within 24 hours of filing suit, the US Embassy approved the visa. Almuganahi immediately departed the US to make arrangements for his family to make their way to America. Before CAIR-NY’s intervention, the Almuganahi’s visa was pending for more than 21 months.

In February agency data revealed that the State Department refused more than 37,000 visa applications in 2018 due to the travel ban, up from less than 1,000 the previous year when the ban had not fully taken effect.

Carey Shenkman, CAIR-NY Of Counsel said: “We are proud to welcome the Almuganahi family to New York and hope to be able to soon welcome other families impacted by the terrible Muslim ban.”

According to CAIR, there are hundreds of cases like the Almuganahis. In the past, the State Department has argued that anything short of an actual, printed visa is provisional.

CAIR argues many Yemenis who have successfully procured a visa did so only after a lawsuit or media coverage, and that this undercuts the security rationale of the travel ban.

14 Iranian American families separated by the travel ban are suing the Trump Administration.

The complaint filed last month in the Central District of Southern California says that ‘unreasonable administrative delays’ for processing travel ban waivers, among other reasons, has caused the defendants distress. It paints a picture of separated spouses and broken families suffering ‘a range of ongoing harms.’

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