Relief for green card holders following exemption from US travel ban

Card holders’ entry to the country, which will be subject to security checks, is “in the national interest” and the US department for homeland security expects entry to be swift for most.

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ABU DHABI // Green card holders will be allowed to board flights bound for the United States and they will be assessed for exceptions upon arrival, the US department for homeland security announced on Monday.

Card holders’ entry to the country, which will be subject to security checks, is “in the national interest” and the department expects entry to be swift for most.

“In the first 30 days, the DHS will perform a global country-by-country review of the information each country provides when their citizens apply for a US visa or immigration benefit,” a statement said. “Countries will then have 60 days to comply with any requests from the US government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.”

DHS and the US department of state have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to issue visas or allow the entry of people from the 7 countries banned by president Donald Trump’s administration when it serves the national interest, the statement said.

“The seven countries were designated by congress and the Obama administration as posing a significant enough security risk to warrant additional scrutiny in the visa-waiver context.”

Ahmed Bushra, a Sudanese green card holder who lives in Maryland, said he was thrilled to be able to go home.

“It made me feel good when I found out because I was confused over the last few days,” said the 24-year-old who flew to Abu Dhabi last month. “If I book my ticket through Etihad, I will go through the customs here so it will hopefully be a swift process. At least if they turn me down, it will be done here but I’m not expecting that and I don’t see a reason that will validate them doing that to me.”

Although he plans on flying back to the US next week, the experience will make him think twice about travelling again in the near future.

“I would reconsider travel from the US,” he said. “It will definitely make me rethink it because I don’t feel free to travel like before and I consider it a big risk. Getting a green card is a long process when they perform stringent background checks on us so making us exempt from this order makes sense.”

Hassan Attar, who holds an American passport, said Mr Trump was playing with fire.

“It’s almost dangerous because you’re isolating yourself from the rest of the world and you’re sort of starting a war against a religion,” he said. “So if these fundamentalists didn’t have a real reason to do anything before, now they can rally their troops.”

He said exempting green card holders from Mr Trump’s executive order made sense. “A lot of these people have lived in the US for decades and have positively contributed to the country,” he said. “So banning them from returning would have caused major issues.”

cmalek@thenational.ae