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Syrian-American Valencia student worried after 'extreme vetting' ban

By Matt Grant, For Welsh News, On 30 January 2017, Read Original
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Lora Abdulhak is a typical 21-year-old college student. She attends class at Valencia College. Unlike her peers, though, Lora, who has duel US and Syrian citizenship, is now afraid to leave the country.

Lora, who calls being a US citizen “a blessing,” cancelled an upcoming wedding overseas over fears she would not be allowed back in the US.

“I do not want to put myself in any sort of situation where I would go and not be able to come back,” she said.

Under President Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order, immigrants from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are temporarily banned from entering the US. The move, which affects predominantly Muslim countries, does not apply to anyone with duel American citizenship, like Lora, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

“It’s not a Muslim ban,” said President Trump. “We were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely.”

Protests erupted at airports across the country, including New York’s JFK, where at least a dozen refugees were detained Saturday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations plans to announce a lawsuit Monday calling the ban “bigoted.”

“We see this as un-American,” said Rasha Mubarak, with CAIR’s Orlando office. “It’s absolutely something that America would never stand for. American was built on the backs of immigrants.”

Attorney Gail Seeram has been practicing immigration law for nearly two decades. She says she’s never seen anything like this and points out people coming to the US from affected countries have already legally obtained a visa and cleared background checks.

Seeram thinks the immigration freeze won’t hold up in court

“That's unconstitutional under our Fifth Amendment,” said Seeram. “You can't deprive life, liberty without due process.”

Meanwhile, Lora says her uncle, who has a green card and owns restaurants at Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, had to cancel a business trip to Sudan, which is one of the affected countries, because he would not be allowed to return.

Her family in Syria, for now, can’t visit.

“Hopeless, helpless,” Lora said, when asked how she and her family feels. “There’s nothing we can do.”

There are no direct flights to any of the affected countries at Orlando International Airport. Officials said there has been "no major impact" locally.

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