Mohamed Iye wore a brilliant smile Sunday afternoon at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. In minutes, he would greet his wife and two young daughters. He had not seen them in more than two years.
Iye, 66, a Somali-born U.S. citizen who lives in Maplewood, waited for his family for an hour after seeing that the flight from Amsterdam had arrived at 12:26 p.m.
Then the gate slid open and his wife, Saido Ahmed Abdille, and their daughters Nimo, 4, and Nafiso, 2, were in view. Iye swept up his oldest daughter in a hug first. Then the youngest, too, was in his arms.
President Donald Trump’s travel ban threw Abdille’s travel plans into uncertainty. Abdille was still in Nairobi last week when she was told she wouldn’t be able to travel to Amsterdam and then to Minnesota. When a federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked the order and federal authorities began reversing the visa cancellations, she was told her flights had been approved.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of worry that I would not make it here,” Abdille said, adding that she had no problem getting through immigration and customs.
“This is the first part of happiness,” Iye said through an interpreter, Khalid Barkhadle.
Trump responded angrily to the Friday ruling, ordering an appeal. But on Sunday morning, a federal appeals court rejected a request by the Justice Department to restore Trump’s targeted travel ban immediately.
Finally on U.S. soil, Abdille and the girls appeared exhausted by their travel and overwhelmed by the crowd at the airport. The arrivals area was jammed and chaotic as many families were there waiting for international exchange students from around the world.
Iye said the family just wants to spend time together. “We’re going to consult with doctors and go forward,” he said.
The couple’s children are U.S. citizens; Abdille is not and had waited through more than four years of vetting to be approved to come to the United States, Iye and his attorneys said. The children had stayed with their mother in Kenya, but medical treatment for their oldest, who has microcephaly, was not available there.
Another immigrant family was reunited at the airport just minutes after Iye and Abdille bundled their children against the cold and left surrounded by friends and family members.
Farhan Diriye had waited 12 years in a Kenyan refugee camp to come to the United States, he said. His mother, brother and sisters immigrated in 2004 but he was delayed for reasons that were not clear Sunday.
“Yes, we still believe in America,” he and his family said.
CAIR-Minnesota and other immigrant advocates reiterated Sunday that they are encouraging travelers from affected countries to fly as soon as possible because of uncertainty surrounding the stay.
Minnesota on Wednesday joined a suit by the Washington state attorney general that challenged Trump’s executive order as unconstitutional.
On Friday, a group that includes several law firms, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota and Advocates for Human Rights sued to block the White House travel ban on behalf of Iye and another Minnesota family.
In both situations, the husbands are residents of the United States and their wives had passed all background checks, submitted all necessary documents, completed all necessary interviews and been approved for immigrant visas, making them eligible for green cards upon entering the U.S., said a statement from those who filed the lawsuit.
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.”
One of the two cases involves Farshid M. Zadeh, a legal U.S. resident, and his wife, Samaneh Raghimi, who had quit her job as a professor at Azad University in Iran to move to the United States to be with her husband. They were on a flight from Tehran, Iran, when the executive order was signed. When the couple landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Raghimi was notified that she would not be allowed to fly to the United States. Financial considerations forced Zadeh to return to Minnesota, and his wife to Tehran.
Raghimi was scheduled to fly from Tehran to Amsterdam on Sunday night and to arrive in Minneapolis on Monday afternoon, said the family’s attorney, Kevin Riach.
“Things are so fluid right now, I’d say we’re hopeful rather than saying we’re confident” about her arrival, he said.