When President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday night banning refugees from specific countries from entering the U.S., it immediately impacted countless innocent people in heartbreaking ways. A 71-year-old man traveling to visit his family in Los Angeles was removed from his flight in Qatar. A Seattle man is now forbidden from seeing family living in Canada. An Iranian film director nominated for an Oscar will not be able to attend this year’s ceremony. The stories are so many that it’s hard to keep up with them all.
One story that should offend most Americans, even those who might support President Trump’s ban, is the case of Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who has worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for a decade.
The New York Times reported Saturday, “Mr. Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day Mr. Trump was sworn in as president. Mr. Darweesh worked with the United States in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, engineer and contractor — over the course of roughly a decade.”
The report continued (emphasis added):
Mr. Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said he had been directly targeted twice for working with the United States military.
A husband and father of three, he arrived at Kennedy Airport on Friday evening with his family. Mr. Darweesh’s wife and children made it through passport control and customs, but agents of Customs and Border Protection stopped and detained him.
Brandon Friedman, who worked with Mr. Darweesh as an infantry lieutenant with the 101st Airborne, praised Mr. Darweesh’s work. “This is a guy that this country owes a debt of gratitude to,” Mr. Friedman said. “There are not many Americans who have done as much for this country as he has. He’s put himself on the line. He’s put his family on the line to help U.S. soldiers in combat, and it is astonishing to me that this country would suddenly not allow people like that in.”
Friedman added, “We have a moral obligation to protect and repay these people who risked their lives for U.S. troops.”
Mr. Friedman has a point. In addition to the many other innocent people being punished due to the ban, how in good conscience can we do this to a man who has risked so much for our country?
One veteran expressed his outrage on Twitter:
No doubt similar stories will continue to pour in. Also, no doubt, the U.S. should remain vigilant against foreign threats.
Also – like so much American foreign policy – will an action like this curtail or exacerbate the threat of terrorism?
UPDATE: Hameed Khalid Daweesh has been released after being detained for 18 hours: