Brothers turned away during travel ban may be allowed in U.S. - WNEM TV 5

Brothers turned away during travel ban may be allowed in U.S.

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Source: gofundme Source: gofundme
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

Two men from Yemen caught up in the president's travel ban may get to see their father in Mid-Michigan after all. 

The Washington Post reports federal officials are trying to reinstate visas for 19-year-old Ammar Aziz and his 21-year-old brother Tareq Aziz. The brothers were heading to Flint live with their father when they were reportedly handcuffed and forced to buy a ticket back to Africa.

They spent more than two years obtaining visas to be reunited with their father, a naturalized U.S. citizen who manages gas stations in Flint.

But they were forced to return to Africa because hours earlier President Donald Trump signed an order blocking immigrants from seven Muslim nations, including Yemen, with permanent resident or “green card” status from entering the United States.

The brothers were unaware of the ban when they arrived to the U.S.

A lawsuit reportedly states the brothers, who have green cards, were stopped by Custom and Border Protection officials, told to sign papers waiving their legal immigration status, or potentially be barred from coming back to the United States for five years.

They were then reportedly made to purchase tickets back to Africa with their own money.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has since said anyone with green cards would be able to stay in the U.S., but having giving theirs up, the brothers have been unable to return.

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director with the immigrant advocacy program, said the brothers were detained and unlawfully coerced into signing forms forcing them to turn over their visas.

"You know these kids know nothing about the law. They were not given access to an attorney. There were attorneys however, many feet away who were willing to go and advise them for free. But they were not given access to attorneys," Sandoval-Moshenberg said.

He said it was a complete violation of their constitutional rights.

"There's also really no basis under the law for them to do it. Even the executive order itself, which we believe is completely illegal and unconstitutional, only purports to prohibit them from entering for 90 days. But even under the terms of that, 91 days later they should have been allowed to come in. Instead what the border patrol agents did at Dulles Airport was cancel immigrant visas that took them well over a year of processing to obtain," Sandoval-Moshenberg said.

A crowd-funding site, crowdjustice, has been set-up to raise money to help return the brother’s immigration status. A Gofundme account has also been created.

"They had the bad luck of getting on an airplane and taking off two hours before Mr. Trump signed this executive order," Sandoval-Moshenberg said.

Concerns about Trump's travel ban were in the forefront of many minds in an Islamic prayer room in Flint Wednesday night.

"They're upset. They feel President Trump is treating us as if we're collectively all guilty or second class citizens," said Niman Shukairy, with the Flint Islamic Center.

He said Trump's ban is misguided. Shukairy is an American born citizen, but his parents immigrated from Syria. For him the travel ban is personal.

Shukairy said it feels like a Muslim ban, citing the president's words during his campaign.

"What upsets us is that we know that's what he wants, but legally he can't do that so it seems to us it's the closest he can get," Shukairy said.

He said many Muslims across the country are concerned about their travel plans already in the works.

Shukairy said it is cases like the Aziz brothers that make him fear for the future of his fellow Muslim Americans.

"Even if it gets fixed and they come here, the difficulties and the hassle and the time and money loss. I mean, it's destructing lives of people who have nothing to do with terrorism," Sandoval-Moshenberg said.

The state of Virginia is working on behalf of the brothers who are currently in Djibouti. 

You can see the gofundme account here.

You can see find the crowdjustice site here.

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