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The Terrible Cost of the Cruel and Unnecessary Travel Ban

The travel ban remains as cruel and unnecessary as ever.
corroded yemen flag

NBC News reports on the story of a Yemeni-American citizen who committed suicide because his family members stranded in Djibouti had not been granted visas on account of the Trump administration’s travel ban:

Five days after his suicide, the government issued waivers for his family. Waivers are exemptions from the travel ban granted if the government decides that the denial of visas would cause undue hardship, their issuance are in the U.S. interest and the applicants don’t pose security risks.

“The only visas that are getting issued are extreme cases that hit the media,” said Julie Goldberg, an American lawyer with an office in Djibouti. In June, Goldberg won a class action lawsuit in federal court to reissue visas for Yemenis in Djibouti, like Salem’s family, who had theirs revoked after the travel ban.

“It shouldn’t be a tragedy that happens in order for someone to get a waiver,” Goldberg said.

A week after Salem died on July 18, his family stepped onto U.S. soil — too late to attend his funeral.

The story is a horrifying one, but unfortunately the cause for the poor man’s despair is all too common. There have been many other cases of Yemeni-American citizens who have family members stranded in transit because they happen to come from one of the countries included in the preposterous travel ban. These people pose no threat to the U.S. In their case, they are fleeing a country ravaged by war, disease, and famine. Those conditions have been created in no small part by U.S. support for the Saudi coalition intervention.

The travel ban has added further insult and injury to the misery that these people are already suffering. Instead of being allowed to reunite with their family, they are kept in limbo in a third country where they know no one, they have no employment, and they have nowhere to go. Yemenis that have managed to escape from the nightmarish conditions in their home country dare not return, but they cannot keep waiting in Djibouti indefinitely. Allowing them to come join their family members in the U.S. is the humane and decent thing to do under the circumstances. The administration’s travel ban instead treats the children and wives of U.S. citizens as security threats to be kept out at all costs. The travel ban remains as cruel and unnecessary as ever, and because of it an American citizen, Mahmood Salem, was so distraught that he took his own life.