US Travel ban: Travellers arrive to hugs and tears

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Green Bay. (Evan Vucci, AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Green Bay. (Evan Vucci, AP)

Boston — Travelers from the seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted by President Donald Trump enjoyed tearful reunions with loved ones in the US on Sunday after a federal judge swept the ban aside.

Airlines around the world allowed people to board flights as usual to the United States. One lawyer waiting at New York's Kennedy Airport said visa and green-card holders from Iraq and Iran were encountering no problems as they arrived.

"It's business as usual," said Camille Mackler, of the New York Immigration Coalition.

Fariba Tajrostami, a 32-year-old painter from Iran, came through the gate at Kennedy with a huge smile and tears in her eyes as her brothers greeted her with joyful hugs.

Fariba Tajrostami, center, of Iran, is embraced by her brothers Joseph, left, and Eddie, right, Sunday, February 5, 2017, at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport after arriving on her flight from Istanbul. Tajrostami had tried to fly a week earlier but was turned away in Istanbul and sent back to Tehran, due to President Donald Trump's travel ban. When she heard the restrictions were lifted she bought the first ticket she could to New York. She plans to join her husband, who moved from Iran last year, in Dallas. He has a green card and works at a car dealership. Tajrostami plans to further pursue her art studies in the U.S. (AP Photo/William Mathis)

"I'm very happy. I haven't seen my brothers for nine years," she said.

Tajrostami had tried to fly to the US from Turkey over a week ago but was turned away.

"I was crying and was so disappointed," she said. "Everything I had in mind, what I was going to do, I was so disappointed about everything. I thought it was all over."

Tajrostami said she hopes to study art in the US and plans to join her husband in Dallas soon. He moved from Iran six months ago, has a green card and is working at a car dealership.

Similar scenes played out across the US two days after a judge in Washington state suspended the president's travel ban and just hours after a federal appeals court denied the Trump administration's request to set aside the ruling.

The US canceled the visas of up to 60 000 foreigners in the week after the ban on travel from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen took effect, according to the State Department. Trump also suspended nearly all refugee admissions for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The order triggered protests and a multitude of legal challenges around the country and blocked numerous college students, researchers and others from entering the US.

Mahsa Azabadi, 29, an Iranian-American who lives in Denver, was forced to put her wedding plans on hold after her fiance, Sorena Behzadfar, was turned away when he tried to board a plane to travel from Iran to the US on January 28.

Over the weekend, though, Behzadfar was cleared for travel and was expected to arrive at Boston's Logan Airport on Sunday afternoon.

"He got the visa, so I was planning the wedding. Then all of a sudden, it stopped, and I didn't even know if he'd be allowed to come here. It's been a really tough week to figure out what will happen to us," said Azabadi, who has lived in the US for 11 years and is now a US citizen.

The couple are hoping to keep their wedding date of May 12.

"Seeing the support from the lawyers and different people trying to help, it was really nice," she said. "We want to be the best and do the best for the people and for this country. We would love to have the opportunity."

Iranian researcher Nima Enayati, a PhD candidate at a university in Milan, was prevented from boarding a flight to the US on January 30. He had a visa to conduct research on robotic surgery at Stanford University.

On Sunday, he said his check-in went smoothly on a flight to New York, where he was expected to arrive Sunday evening.

At Cairo Airport on Sunday, officials said a total of 33 US-bound migrants from Yemen, Syria and Iraq boarded flights.

Lebanon's National News Agency said airlines operating out of Beirut also began allowing Syrian families and others affected by the ban to fly. Beirut has no direct flights to the US; travelers have to go through Europe.

Mackler, the immigration attorney, enjoyed what she saw at Kennedy Airport.

"This is what it should be. You sit in an airport day in and day out, and you see all these moments of great joy and unification," she said. "It was so sad to see that and know some people weren't having that. Now it feels good."

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