How Trump’s travel ban is killing the Syrian refugees

How Trump's travel ban is killing the Syrian refugees
Abdul Ghani, a 30-year-old Syrian refugee living in Turkey, with his 2-year-old son, Abdul Jawad and 4-year-old daughter Aiysha

When the US President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban to protect “National Security” as he claimed, lives of thousands of refugees, who were accepted or on the waiting list, were deeply affected. Some of them even lost their lives as it was dependant on them reaching the US.

Donald Trump has signed in January an executive order that will limit immigration and refugees from some Muslim-majority countries, fulfilling a campaign-trail promise to introduce what he dubbed “extreme vetting.”

The order bans Syrian refugees, claiming they are “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and suspends the refugee admissions program for all countries for 120 days. It will also suspend the issue of visas to nationals of countries where the US believes they do not provide enough information on an applicant to decide whether or not they are a security or public safety threat.

Those countries were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

This order created chaos in the US as many considered it unlawful and sought to stop its implementation, and was blocked later by several federal courts in the US.

However, Trump’s administration kept working on a new travel ban order and announced it on March 6.

This order has deeply affected thousands of lives, and Abdul Ghani Abdul Jawad’s was one of them, and journalist Laila Al-Arian told his story.

America doesn’t want you

Abdul Ghani’s family of five had been cleared to be resettled to the U.S. and were supposed to come in December, but couldn’t because at that point, his youngest child, Abdul Jawad, 2, was too sick to fly.

He said the trip was later pushed back to Feb. 1 and canceled because of the ban.

He said that his two sons, aged 6 and 2, were hospitalized because they had a rare genetic disorder, and that he wanted to bring them to the U.S. for medical treatment as soon as possible.

According to his children’s medical records, both boys had been diagnosed with a severe immunodeficiency called Omenn Syndrome. It’s also known as the “bubble boy” disease because those who suffer from it are very vulnerable to infectious diseases and need to be kept in immaculately clean conditions.

It can be cured with a bone marrow transplant, a costly and risky operation that is not easily available to Syrians in Turkey, let alone refugees with few means.

To Abdul Ghani, the Trump administration’s justification that the ban is necessary for national security, a claim that was dismissed in at least two leaked Department of Homeland Security reports, doesn’t make any sense. “Those kids have nothing to do with terrorism,” he said. “Are they terrorists? Look at them. If [my son] doesn’t go to America or a European country for medical treatment, his life will be destroyed. He will die.”

How the ban was deadly

The small hospital the children were staying in was not very clean. We saw bloodstained pillowcases and sheets, and their small, stuffy room reeked of bodily fluids. It was also ill-equipped to deal with children. There was no pediatrics unit and Yahya was the only child being treated in an ICU for adults.

Abdul Ghani said that the family had a short window of time in January to make it over to the U.S. while both children were well enough to travel. But then their trip was canceled. Days later, he says, his older son, Yahya’s health took a turn for the worse. For the family, it became a race against time. Their only hope now was for Yahya’s health to improve enough so he could fly to the U.S. for treatment.

A large part of Yahia’s deteriorated situation was his disappointment due to the cancellation of their journey, according to his father.

His biological activities have collapsed and he was brought again to the ICU. After five days of persistent suffer, Yahya died in the ICU.

“It makes it clear that for some, the consequences of the Trump administration’s policy to temporarily ban entire nations from entering the country, are a matter of life and death,” Laila finalized her article.

How Trump's travel ban is killing the Syrian refugees
Yahya, in one of the last pictures before his death