Mainers face challenges with President's travel ban

Visa applicants from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen must have a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States.

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Many Mainers are concerned about the new restrictions from the State Department impacting President Trump's travel ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries.

The restrictions state that any visa applicant from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen, must have a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity already in the United States. The visitor must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S. to enter the country.

Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and fiances are not included.

Muslims gathered at the Maine Muslim Community Center in Portland worry that they may never see some of their relatives again.

"I wish she was here," said Abdiaziz Mohamed, a travel agent in Portland. "Our families -- some of them at home are sick -- and cannot come seek better care because of the visa restriction."

Siyad Ahmed, a Somali refugee, spent more than 20 years in refugee camps, and said some of his best friends are like family, and he worries that he may never see them again.

"It's devastating for both new refugees who are trying to come over and those who are trying to join their families who cannot," said Ahmed.

Maine Muslim Community Center director Ahmed Abdirahman said some people petition for their entire families to come to America, but that these new restrictions could force them to start the visa application process from scratch.

"Finally they have been approved -- then that whole thing could be canceled and families will be divided," said Abdirahman. "We don't see that it is fair to families who have gone though this for a long time, as well as many U.S. citizens."

While President Trump said his goal is to use these restrictions to keep the U.S. safe, Abdirahman believes it will provide fuel for terrorists.

"That's the message they want to send: 'hey Muslims in the U.S., the U.S. is not your friend, the U.S. is your enemy because they are stopping your family from joining you," said Abdirahman.

 The Supreme Court will make its final ruling on the travel ban in October. See the full order here.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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