People gathers in the protest “Rally Against Racism: Stand Up for Haiti and Africa” after President Trump’s comments about Haitian and African immigrants at Times Square (42nd & Broadway),NY, USA, 15 January 2018. (Photo by Anik Rahman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This is an excerpt from a New York Times story. The part I’m sharing includes stories of people from Yemen trying to get to the US. If you click the link to read the full article, there’s a lot more in the article including stories of people from Iran facing similar problems.
According to a lawyer in Djibouti, over 300 Yemeni nationals have had their visa applications denied since mid-December. No one has been accepted.
For those needing assistance, the Marhaba Service of Albany, NY, mentioned in this article has a Facebook page with more information. Please visit this page if you know anyone from Yemen who is being denied a visa.
Anyway, here is the article…..
JAN. 17, 2018
Hundreds of immigrants hoping to escape violence in Yemen and join their families in the United States received an official notice last year from the State Department that started with a long-anticipated message: “Your visa is approved.”
But those turned out to be just words.
After the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban took effect on Dec. 8, their approvals abruptly turned to rejections, in what lawyers, family members and immigration activists said was a display of bad faith.
The rejections of Yemeni citizens, many of them women and children, seeking travel documents from the small United States Embassy in Djibouti, in East Africa, occurred even though the State Department had said it would not revoke any visas when carrying out the president’s proclamation imposing the new restrictions on immigration.
Many of those rejected had been told by the embassy that their visas were approved as early as last July, after being interviewed by the State Department. The approval notices, on a half-size piece of paper in English and Arabic, also said: “We cannot guarantee how long it will take to print it and have your passport ready for pickup. You should check the status of your visa online.”
Julie Goldberg, a lawyer in Djibouti, said hundreds of people had come to her doorstep since mid-December. She estimated that more than 300 Yemeni nationals had been rejected so far. “There’s no explanation for getting denied — everybody’s getting denied,” she said in a telephone interview from her home there, which serves as a legal clinic. “It’s complete hopelessness. I have women sobbing.”
But the State Department said there was an explanation: However final it may seem, an approval notice is not a guarantee, said an official with the department who spoke anonymously because its employees are not authorized to speak publicly. Such a notice should have been considered provisional, the official said, because at the time, the vetting of the would-be immigrants was not yet complete. The ban’s assurances, the official said, applied only to those holding actual visas.
But the notice — with the case number written in pen to identify the visa applicant — seemed like the last word to the immigrants and those working on their behalf. “We looked at it like that for all of our clients,” said Mosheer Fittahey, a consultant for Marhaba Service in Albany, which assists Yemeni nationals in legal, financial and travel transactions.
Mr. Fittahey said 111 Yemeni-Americans from across the country have contacted him on behalf of their relatives who received approval notices followed by rejections from the embassy in Djibouti. More calls come daily. About 60 percent of the cases there involve women and children, he said.
Mohammed Alawadhi, a doctor in Arkansas, said that his wife, Rasha Alzabaidi, 27, who has a heart ailment, received an approval from the embassy in Djibouti on Dec. 6.
On Dec. 4, the Supreme Court lifted two injunctions that had been placed on the second travel ban by lower courts, allowing the State Department on Dec. 8 to carry out the latest ban, which restricts immigration from eight countries, six of them majority Muslim.
On Dec. 17, a day when numerous families were emptying out of the embassy with rejection notices, Ms. Alzabaidi called her husband in a panic, Dr. Alawadhi recalled. “She said to me: ‘Mohammad, they shattered families. I am seeing families in the street crying like they have a death in the family.’”
Four days later, she got her rejection notice. “I was shattered,” Dr. Alawadhi said.
Brooklyn-born Malik Almathil, 27, first applied for a visa for his Yemeni wife, Shaima Almathil, 22, in April 2016. For a year, the couple lived in Malaysia, until she was told to go to Djibouti for her interview in July. She walked out of the United States Embassy in Djibouti on July 31 with her visa approved. As with Ms. Alzabaidi, the approval form told her to check online for when the visa would be printed and she could pick up her passport. She kept checking, to no avail.
On Aug. 14, Samerah Alawdi, 38, a mother of seven whose husband, a naturalized American citizen, cares for four of their United States-born children in Michigan, received the same approval note.
Both waited in Djibouti until she and her three children were also rejected in December.
For people trying to flee Yemen, the rejections have come at considerable cost. With the American Embassy in Sana, the Yemeni capital, closed since February 2015 because of fighting between Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabian-backed military forces, most Yemenis go to Djibouti to apply for their visas. According to relatives, they first have to go through multiple military checkpoints to leave Yemen. Or they must travel on a boat across the Gulf of Aden.
Many say they sold their homes or cars and took out loans in the United States, incurring costs in the thousands of dollars.
Ms. Goldberg, the lawyer in Djibouti, is planning to file multiple lawsuits in the United States on behalf of her rejected clients, many of them small children.
In the meantime, the embassy in Djibouti is still interviewing visa applicants from Yemen.
Abdo Alfgeeh, 42, who lives in Mohegan Lake, N.Y., applied for his wife and three children, ages 16 to 21, in June 2015. They were finally approved for an interview on Jan. 29.
“They have to be there for the interview,” Mr. Alfgeeh said, “even though there is a big chance they will be refused like everybody else was.”
This next article is from The Guardian. Click the link to read the entire thing.
Tears, despair and shattered hopes: the families torn apart by Trump’s travel ban
Five-year-old Gamila Almansoob has asked the same question for years: “When are we going to daddy?” Each time, the Yemeni girl’s mother gives the same reply: “When we get the paperwork.”
Gamila’s father, Ramy Almansoob, a US citizen, moved to Virginia in 2015 with the hopes that his wife and three daughters could soon follow and escape their war-torn home country. After a lengthy vetting process, the visas were approved on 4 December 2017. That same day, however, the US supreme court ruled that Donald Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, could go into effect.
Ten days later, instead of printing the visas, the embassy gave the family a notice saying that they were now ineligible. Gamila cried as her mother tried to explain to her that this was not the paperwork they needed.
“These children are not dangerous. If you want to make America great again, it starts with children,” said Ramy, 34, who was born in the US, but raised in Yemen. His wife was told that no waivers would be granted and that the denial was final. “I need them with me.”
Ramy said it was hard to remain hopeful when he thinks about his daughters – ages five, nine and 12 – and how much he has missed.
His wife tries to keep him positive: “She keeps telling me not to give up, that there is a day we’re going to meet again.”
But he doesn’t know when that will be: “I was born here, and I’m going to die here. I can’t leave America.”