Mohamed Iye wore a brilliant smile as he approached the international arrivals gate at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sunday afternoon. In just minutes, the 66-year-old Somali-American man was about to greet his wife and two young daughters whom he hadn’t seen in more than two years.
Iye, a Somali-born U.S. citizen who lives in Maplewood, waited patiently among a crowd for his family for an hour after the arrivals board said the Delta flight from Amsterdam had arrived at 12:26 p.m.
“This is the first part of happiness,” Iye said through interpreter, Khalid Barkhadle, as he waited. He was “a little bit nervous, and excited,” he said. “I’m a grown man, an old man, so I know anything could happen.”
Iye moved closer to the opaque sliding glass doors and the minutes ticked by. Then the gate slid open and his wife, Saido Ahmed Abdille and their daughters Nimo, 4, and Nafiso, 2, were in view. Iye swooped up his eldest daughter, who has microcephaly, and the tiny girl almost disappeared enveloped in his embrace. Then the youngest, too, was in his arms.
Abdille and the girls appeared exhausted by their travel and overwhelmed by the crowd.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of worry that I would not make it here,” she said, adding that she had no problem getting through immigration and customs at the airport.
Iye said the family just wants to spend time together. “We’re going to consult with doctors and go forward,” he said.
Lawyers for the family said Abdille was approved for an immigrant visa on Jan. 18, after a four-year vetting process. The couple’s children are U.S. citizens.
But on Jan. 28, the day after President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia, she was informed they would not be able to board their Feb. 4 flight to Amsterdam, from Nairobi. Nimo requires medical care that is not available in Kenya, where they had been living.
A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked the White House immigration ban, and federal authorities began reversing cancellation of visas for people from the affected countries.
Trump responded angrily, ordering an appeal. But on Sunday morning, a federal appeals court rejected a request by the Justice Department to restore Trump’s targeted travel ban immediately.
It is unclear wither the Iye family reunion came about as a result of Friday’s ruling, but immigrant advocates said they were encouraging travelers from affected countries to fly as soon as possible due to uncertainty surrounding the stay.
Minnesota on Wednesday joined a suit by the Washington state attorney general that challenged Trump’s executive order as unconstitutional.
On Friday, a group that includes several law firms, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and Advocates for Human Rights sued to block the White House travel ban on behalf of Iye and another Minnesota family.
In both situations, the husbands are residents of the United States and their wives had passed all background checks, submitted all necessary documents, completed all necessary interviews and been approved for immigrant visas, making them eligible for green cards upon entering the U.S., said a statement from those who filed the lawsuit.
Abdille, who arrived Sunday from Nairobi by way of Amsterdam, “has been through four years of very vigorous screening,” said Abdinasir Abdulahi, one of her attorneys. “If four years of vetting is not extreme, I don’t know what is.”
One of the two cases involves Farshid M. Zadeh, a legal U.S. resident, and his wife, Samaneh Raghimi, who had quit her job as a professor at Azad University in Iran to move to the U.S. to be with her husband, were on a flight from Tehran, Iran, when the Executive Order was signed. When the couple landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Raghimi was notified that she would not be allowed to fly to the United States. Financial considerations forced Zadeh to return to Minnesota, and his wife to Tehran.
Raghimi is scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Source: Star Tribune