These Are The Refugees And Immigrants Already Affected By Trumps Executive Order

The real-life consequences of President Donald Trumps executive order on Friday banning Syrian refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations becameapparent within hours of his signing it.

A wide range of mainly Muslim immigrants learned that their hopes of finding safety in the United States or reuniting with family here were suddenly in serious jeopardy if not dashed entirely. Syrian families approved for resettlement in the U.S. were stuck in limbo at the last minute. Iraqis who risked their lives interpreting for the U.S. military during the war were detained upon their arrival in American airports. And longtime American residents were faced with indefinite separation from family members.

The Trump administration also made clear that the 500,000 American green card holders from these countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be approved for re-entry only on a case-by-case basis. If they are currently in the U.S., those green card holders will be required to consult with the government before traveling outside the country.

Here are just a few of these peoples stories.

Hamid Khalid Darweesh and Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi

Hamid Khalid Darweesh, a former Iraqi interpreter for the U.S.Army, and Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, an Iraqi refugee, were detained upon arrival at New Yorks John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday night.

Darweesh, who was released Saturday afternoon, said at a press conference that he had endured hours of questioning during his overnight detention.

But he nonetheless emphasized his excitement at arriving in the U.S., which he called the greatest country in the world.

Earlier on Saturday, Mark Doss, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project who is representing Darweesh and Alshawi, told CNN that he had been unable to communicate with his clients during their detention.

Alshawi was coming to reunite with his wife, a former U.S. government contractor, and his children, who already live in the United States. He remains in detention along with 10 other immigrants being held at the airport, according to Murad Adawdeh of the New York City Immigration Coalition.

Theyre treating them like they have no rights, Adawdeh said.

While Afghanistan is not on the list of proscribed countries, an Afghan interpreter was detained at San Francisco International Airport on Friday while his wife and children were allowed through, according to Matt Zeller, founder of No One Left Behind, a nonprofit that helps Afghan and Iraqi combat interpreters resettle safely in the United States.

Azaz Elshami

Azaz Elshami, a Sudanese citizen in her mid-30s, has been a permanent U.S. resident since 2012, when she was picked in a State Department lottery. Prior to that, she worked at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, where she had an American security clearance.

Elshami, who now earns a living as a nonviolent-communication consultant, was on vacation visiting friends in Ethiopia when Trump issued his executive order barring immigration from Sudan.

Although she is a green card holder, Elshami is not willing to take her chances at an American airport without a lawyers help. She worries that if the United States turns her away, she will ultimately be sent back to Sudan, where her work advocating for human rights would put her life in danger.

This is the irony: I dont approve of my countrys government. I have not visited Sudan since 1997. And yet I am living with the consequences of this government, she told The Huffington Post.

Elshamis Ethiopian tourist visa will soon run out, at which point her options will dwindle. She plans to go to a country that accepts Sudanese citizens without a visa and begin the process there of securing U.S. approval for her re-entry. Meanwhile, her aging mother, who recently survived a heart attack and relies on Elshamis assistance, is living in the United States.

This is not the America that I know. I will refuse to hold this as the image of the America that I know, she said.

Meathaq and Mahmoud

Meathaq, 45, and Mahmoud, 49, of Baghdad just arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, in August with their 5-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. But they have twin 18-year-old daughters still living in Iraq.

Thanks to Mahmouds work as a translator for the U.S. Army, they were able to get special immigrant visas. The process for approving those visas took four years, beginning when they first applied in 2012. In the interim period, Iraqs deteriorating security situation began to endanger them. Mahmoud was seriously wounded by a car bombing in 2014.

By the time their visas were approved, their daughters were over 18, which meant the U.S. government required additional processing before it would green-light their admission. Now the twins are stuck in Baghdad, and their parents fear the family will not be able to reunite. (Meathaq and Mahmoud withheld their last names out of concern for their older daughters safety.)

I am crying all the time, especially after the new law from President Trump, Meathaq told HuffPost. I miss them and the situation in Iraq is so bad and I dont know what to do to help.



figcaption class=”image__caption” js-image-caption”> Meathaq attends the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017. She is desperate to bring her twin daughters, who are still in Iraq, to the United States.

Mohammed Al Rawi

Mohammed Al Rawi, who risked his life working for the Los Angeles Times bureau in Baghdad, moved to Long Beach, California, in 2010. His father was leaving Qatar to fly to Los Angeles to visit him Friday night when a U.S. official stopped the 69-year-old man and informed him that Trump had canceled all visas, Al Rawi wrote on Facebook.

U.S. officials then detained Al Rawis father in an unknown location and confiscated his passport, making it impossible for Al Rawi to book him a hotel in Qatar to sleep for the night, he wrote. His fathers phone died, so he has not been able to get in touch.

Um Mohammed

Um Mohammed, a 30-year-old Syrian mother of two, has lived in New Jersey with her husband and children since the summer of 2015.

The family of refugees spent months working to get Mohammeds parents and two siblings cleared for entry into the U.S. from Turkey. Their admission was finally approved and travel arrangements were booked, but the news proved too good to be true.

On Saturday, four days before Mohammeds family members were due to arrive for the long-awaited reunification, they had to cancel their flights as a result of the Trump administrations refugee ban.

Its over for all of us, Mohammed told HuffPost later that day.

Nashwan Abdullah

Nashwan Abdullah, 25, of Damascus, Syria, is on track to finish his masters degree in music performance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in May. Now that Trump has banned immigration from Syria, Abdullah is not sure if hell be able to stay. He had been hoping to apply for a 12-month work visa available to foreign students, but does not know whether this is possible any longer.

Abdullah is sure, however, that he will not return to Syria. He does not want to be drafted into the Syrian military or deal with the danger and scarcity of basic necessities in the Syrian capital.

Of course I am afraid to go back. Its a war zone. Its an unsafe, bad situation, he told HuffPost.

There is one glimmer of hope for Abdullah: He is Catholic, so he is not sure if the ban is going to include me or not.

Sahar Algonaimi

Border officials at Chicago OHare International Airport detained 60-year-old Syrian national Sahar Algonaimifor five hours on Saturday. Algonaimi had traveled to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia to visit her sick mother in the hospital. Instead, she was forced to board a flight to the United Arab Emirates on her way back home.

Algonaimi holds a U.S. visa and had planned to stay in the country for a week.

Her sister, Nour Ulayyet, a U.S. citizen who now lives in India, pleaded with border officials to no avail to let Algonaimi see her mother.

I needed someone to be with me here, Ulayyet tearfully told HuffPost from the hospital. How am I going to teach my kids and tell them that this is a free country? How can we tell my kids that we have to take care of each other?

Elise Foley and Sebastian Murdock contributed reporting.

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Have you or someone you know been affected by President Trumps executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries? If so, please email one of the authors:, and

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