Donald Trump's travel ban separates badly burned Iraqi boy from family

Dilbreen was rushed to the US for emergency surgery last October. He has since been stranded, needing more surgery, while his parents are stuck in Iraq

Rachael Revesz
New York
@RachaelRevesz
Wednesday 01 February 2017 17:21
comments
Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the executive order, but it might not help Dilbreen
Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the executive order, but it might not help Dilbreen

A young Iraqi boy needing surgery has been left stranded in the US without his parents after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from Muslim-majority countries.

Dilbreen was badly injured at 18 months old when a heater exploded in a refugee shelter in Iraq. He and his father flew to the US in October with nonprofit organisation Road to Peace, and were set to stay with community organisation House of Peace in Michigan while Dilbreen went through several rounds of surgery.

But after the first round of surgery, his father had to fly back to Iraq to be with his wife as she gave birth to their second child. They named their child "Trump" as he was born on the day the President was elected.

The boy's father, Ajeel, tried to come back to the US with his wife but the baby's visa was denied twice and by Christmas their own visas were revoked.

Mr Trump has since signed an order which banned nearly all travellers from Iraq and six other countries for at least 90 days and poses more problems for the parents to get their visas and travel as a family to Iraq.

Carrie Schuchardt from House of Peace told The Independent that Dilbreen’s case was one of both "hardship and incredible tragedy".

"We want him to have the surgery he needs when he needs it and surrounded by people that love him," she said.

Now two years old, he urgently needs surgery before he loses his sight.

Sally Becker from Road to Peace, who travelled with the boy to Michigan last year, told The Independent that it would be too traumatic for such a young child to go through extensive surgery without his parents. She said she travelled with him, his father and two other sick children for 24 hours to the US because no other option was available quick enough. The two other children were treated successfully and went back home.

Sally Becker at Road to Peace travelled with Dilbreen and his father to get treatment in the US

Another child from Iraq managed to fly for treatment in the US last Thursday, one day before the President signed the travel ban order.

"This issue has been turned into a political football," she said. "It's not just about one little boy. There are many other children who will die if they don't get treated. It's just awful."

Massachusetts is one of four states to have filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s order, which has torn families apart, blocked visa and green card holders and has even entangled US officials, translators and US university students. It’s unclear if the lawsuit would help Dilbreen’s family.

There are 87 sick and injured children waiting for treatment in the US, according to Ms Becker. She said there were many more sick children who would not benefit from being sent abroad.

Ms Schuchardt added that the organisation has worked with many children from Iraq and Syria over the past decade who badly needed medical treatment which they could not get in their home countries due to war or lack of resources.

"People are being turned back at the US border," she said.

"Visitors and guests are coming for a variety of reasons including for medical treatment. [The travel ban] is unconstitutional. Some people have been vetted for eight years."

She said many people she speaks with are fearful and in disbelief about the future.

Dilbreen is staying with Adlay Kejjin, director of our affiliates the Yazidi American Women Organisation in Michigan and an affiliate with Road to Peace.

The child's next round of surgery at Schriners Hospital was scheduled for 25 January and now lawyers are trying to get his family special waivers.

The Muslim ban, signed by Mr Trump last week, bars nearly all travellers from seven countries for 90 days and refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria have been suspended indefinitely.

The ban prompted massive protests around the US, four state lawsuits and the dismissal of acting attorney general Sally Yates after she instructed her staff to not defend the ban in court.

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