Trump Ban Dashes Iraqi Family's U.S. Emigration Dream
An Iraqi family of four said their dreams of moving to the United States were dashed on Friday (January 29) after they were blocked from entering America, as new President Donald Trump's ban on Muslims in some countries takes effect.
Faud Suleman, his wife and two daughters aged 10 and 17, and a son aged 19, said they spent two years obtaining U.S visas, and had packed up their lives ahead of moving to America, but said they were turned back to Iraq when they attempted to board a connecting flight to America from Cairo.
Mr Suleman, 52, compared Trump's executive order – signed on Friday (January 27) suspending the entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days – to the politics of Saddam Hussein.
"I believe it's a terrible error in the United States, a terrible error in the history of the United States. I don't know... I thought America is an institution and democracy. I see like... autocracy, someone signs and effective immediately, what does this mean? It is just like Saddam Hussein's decisions. Yeah, without going back to the congress, without going back... I don't understand," Faud Suleman said.
Faud said he has been employed by a pharmaceutical company before leaving Iraq, but had worked on projects funded by U.S. organizations such as USAID in the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The family said it applied for a U.S. visa in September 2014 as security conditions in Iraq deteriorated, with Islamic State (ISIS) insurgents seizing swathes of the country and carrying out mass killings.
Mr Suleman's work with the United States made him particularly vulnerable to attack by militants who viewed him as a traitor.
President Trump said barring travelers from the seven nations for at least 90 days would give his administration time to develop more stringent screening procedures for refugees, immigrants and visitors.
But for Mr Suleman, the policy does not make sense.
"I had to wait one more year for security check, so they spent one year, checking my background and they didn't find anything, any point that makes me threat to the United States of America or the people of the United States of America,'' he said.
He applied to emigrate via a programme known as Special Immigrant Visa, which has been created by U.S. lawmakers to help the tens of thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives helping Americans after the 2003 invasion.
At least 7,000 Iraqis, many of them interpreters for the U.S. military, have settled in the United States under SIV auspices since 2008, while some 500 more are being processed, State Department figures show.
Another 58,000 Iraqis have been awaiting interviews under the Direct Access Program for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis, according to the International Refugee Assistance Project.