Minnesota man reunited with wife, children caught in travel ban

Published 9:29 am Monday, February 6, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS— A Minnesota man was reunited with his wife and two children who were caught up in President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban.

A smiling Mohamed Iye, a Somali-born U.S. citizen, met a flight from Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon. On board were his wife, Saido Ahmed Abdille, and their daughters, Nimo, 4, and Nafiso, 2, according to a press release. The 66-year-old, who lives in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, hadn’t seen them in more than two years.

“This is the first part of happiness,” Iye said through an interpreter as he waited.

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As the security gate slid open, Iye swooped up his eldest daughter, who needs special medical care for microcephaly, and the tiny girl almost disappeared enveloped in his embrace. Then the youngest also was in his arms. The mother and daughters appeared exhausted by their travel and overwhelmed by the crowd.

“I’ve been feeling a lot of worry that I would not make it here,” Abdille said.

Lawyers for the family said Abdille was approved for an immigrant visa Jan. 18, after a four-year vetting process. The couple’s children are U.S. citizens.

But on Jan. 28, the day after Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia, she was told they couldn’t board their Saturday flight to Amsterdam from Nairobi, Kenya, where they had been living.

A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked the ban, and federal authorities began reversing cancellation of visas for people from affected countries. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Iye family reunion came about as a direct result of Friday’s ruling, but immigrant advocates said they were encouraging travelers from affected countries to fly as soon as possible.

In issuing his order, Trump was keeping a campaign pledge to impose “extreme vetting” to keep potential terrorists out of the U.S.

Abdille “has been through four years of very vigorous screening,” said Abdinasir Abdulahi, one of her attorneys. “If four years of vetting is not extreme, I don’t know what is.”