Although we may be considered the “land of the free,” America is in no way perfect when it comes to accepting others seeking refuge in our borders. As early as the country was established, we have always thrived upon exclusivity and under the great facade of “the melting pot,” yet we are heavily flawed still. And, now with the new order passed by President Trump at the beginning of the year, it seems as though history is repeating itself in the worst way possible.
Here are the stories of present and past individuals and families that have been denied passage into our country, who not only come here to flee from persecution and destruction, but who simply and genuinely wish to add to the quality of the country.
Aicha & Abdullah Hijazi
Syrian natives Aicha and Abdullah Hijazi are the proud parents of Prince George county director Haitham Hijazi and U.S. green card holders of 20 years. But, thanks to Trump’s new order ban on Syrian natives, the elderly couple may run into some trouble when attempting to return back to their lives in the U.S.
With their 90-day Saudi visitor visas about to expire and the drama with the new orders being put into effect, Haitham has held off on sharing the news of the temporary ban with his parents due to their old age. He is hoping that by the time the couple is to return, the logistics will be worked out and the ban will have subsided as it was a temporary plan to crack down on security regarding foreign visitors specifically from certain countries. However, only time will tell where this sweet couple will be forced to remain once the 120 day policy is resolved.
American citizen and recent Clemson Honors graduate Nazanin Zinouri was denied passage back to the U.S. for a week thanks to Trump’s new order. After traveling back to her native country Tehran, Zinouri claims that no one warned of the pending actions stating “I still can’t believe this actually happened. I didn’t see this coming any time soon, so this is definitely beyond whatever I could imagine” to CNN.
After attempting to rush back home when finding out that Trump had already signed the order, she made it to Dubai but was sent back to Tehran for the next week. Out of frustration regarding the maltreatment and genocide that was she experiencing, her Facebook post regarding the unfortunate matter went viral. Zinouri has since returned to South Carolina to resume her regular life, but the experience that she went through did not go unnoticed.
The Kohja Family
With what supposed to mark the Khoja family’s final transition into American citizenship, the Turkey native group was detained at the JFK airport instead. Immediately sent back to Istanbul following the order signing, the Kojha family realized that they may never be able to experience “the American dream.”
“At first I thought it was a joke, that she was joking with me,” said Mahmoud Khoja, 58, remembering the phone call telling them their flights had been canceled. “I just froze,” he told the Washington Post. Fortunately for the Kohja’s, a week after their temporary refuge was refused, they were granted entry into the states after undergoing two years of security vetting throughout government agencies.