Families React To Supreme Court Upholding Of Travel Ban
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All right. Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump's travel ban that bars people, including those from five mainly Muslim nations, from traveling to the United States. Relatives here in the U.S. are struggling right now to understand this decision and what comes next for their families. Here's NPR's Joel Rose.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Just a few hours after the court's decision, protesters gathered near the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: When Muslims are under attack, what do we do?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Stand up. Fight back.
ROSE: For some of the speakers, it was personal.
ISRA CHAKER: I'm impacted by this Muslim ban.
ROSE: Isra Chaker works on refugee issues at Oxfam America. Chaker says she knows what it's like to be separated from family. She hasn't seen her relatives in Syria in many years.
CHAKER: They have already had to miss my graduation with my bachelor's degree and the day I married the love of my life. How many more life moments and milestones will they have to miss?
ROSE: The Trump administration has long argued that this travel ban and its predecessors are necessary to protect national security. And the Supreme Court agreed that the president has broad powers in that area. In Washington and across the country, protesters condemned the court's decision. They say it sends the wrong message to block immigrants from five mostly Muslim countries - Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. But the ruling also presents more immediate problems for immigrants and their families in the U.S.
DEBBIE ALMONTASER: Members of my community and I are very devastated by this decision.
ROSE: In New York, there were more protests outside the federal appeals court in lower Manhattan. Debbie Almontaser is the head of the Yemeni American Merchants Association. She says there are Yemenis who fled violence at home scattered all over the world trying to get to the U.S. And she's been flooded with questions about how the Supreme Court ruling affects their chances.
ALMONTASER: I can't keep up with calls from the Yemeni-American community saying what does this mean for us? Are our families going to join us? Will my daughter and my wife come from Djibouti? Will my husband be able to come from Malaysia?
ROSE: The seasoned activists at the protest in New York knew that the Supreme Court ruling might go against them. But even they had trouble hiding their disappointment.
RAMA ISSA-IBRAHIM: I just - trying not to cry every five minutes.
ROSE: Rama Issa directs the Arab American Association of New York. Issa tried to bring her father to the U.S. from Damascus, Syria, when he was dying of kidney failure. But Issa says the travel ban made that impossible.
ISSA-IBRAHIM: It was too difficult for the visa. And then, you know, we just didn't know. We were always in limbo on whether he could come and get some medical treatment here. And then we just didn't get a chance to say goodbye to our father.
ROSE: Shihab Hamud Muthana (ph) is wondering when he'll see his wife and children again. Muthana was born in Yemen, but he's a U.S. citizen and lives in Brooklyn. Right now, his wife and daughters are stuck in Egypt. He says they were close to getting visas to come to the U.S. when the travel ban went into effect last year. When I called Muthana on Tuesday, he said he didn't know how he was going to explain the Supreme Court ruling to his wife in Egypt or their 9-year-old son, who lives with him in Brooklyn.
SHIHAB HAMUD MUTHANA: I don't know what I'm going to tell him (ph). I have to just send him back to his mom. I don't know what to say.
ROSE: Muthana says he's not sure how his son can grow up in the U.S. now. In school, Muthana says, they'll teach him about freedom and rights, and I'll have to tell him that he can't be with his mom. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.
(SOUNDBITE OF MARCUS D'S "MELANCHOLY HOPEFUL")
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