A 12-year-old Yemeni girl, stranded in the African country of Djibouti, is fighting to reunite with her family in Los Banos, California following President Donald Trump‘s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Eman Ali remains stuck in a hotel room in east Africa with her father after she was turned away from boarding a Saturday flight to the Bay Area, even though she obtained an immigrant visa on Thursday, the day before Trump’s executive order was signed.
“She asked me, ‘Why can’t we go? Why only Yemeni? Why only Muslim?’’’ her father, Ahmed Ali, told the Mercury News on Monday. “She cried all day Saturday.”
Eman, whose suitcase was filled with gifts for her mother and two sisters, was told she could not board because she held a passport from Yemen.
For over a decade, Ahmed, who became a U.S. citizen in 2010, has been struggling to move his family out of Yemen.
His wife, Eman’s mother, is also a U.S. citizen but lived in Yemen most of her life, and their eldest daughter, 14, was naturalized, while their youngest child, 2, was born in the U.S.
The Ali family’s immigration lawyer, Katherine Lewis, told the Mercury News that “the executive order is unconstitutional, immoral and un-American. A 12-year-old child is certainly no threat to the United States.”
Lewis is currently working with the offices of U.S. Rep. Jim Costa and U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to obtain a travel letter allowing Eman entry into the U.S.
“Due to President Trump’s hasty decision-making, a 12-year-old girl with parents who are U.S. citizens and Los Banos residents is banned from entering the United States,” Costa said in a statement to the Modesto Bee.
“My office is doing everything within our jurisdiction to help Mr. Ali and his daughter to get home as soon as possible and safely. It’s obvious that keeping a 12-year-old out of the country is not strengthening the safety of our nation,” the statement continued.
Concluding, “Since the 12-year-old girl went through all the rigorous channels to obtain an immigrant visa, and her parents are U.S. citizens, she would have been admitted as a lawful permanent resident and immediately would have been eligible to file for U.S. citizenship.”
Titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” Trump’s immigration ban closes the nation’s borders for at least 120 days.
For 90 days, visas will also not be issued to nationals from several Muslim countries — Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iran. This ban applies to anyone from those countries visiting the U.S., not just people seeking asylum or looking to immigrate.
On Sunday, the president released his response to the international outrage.
“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House Sunday. “America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say.”