When war broke out in Syria and the kidnappings began, Reema Duhman used a three-hour curfew to slip out of the country in 2012 and made her way to Seattle.
Duhman became a permanent US resident and had almost completed the complicated process of securing a visa for her 16-year-old son, still trapped in the war-torn country, when President Donald Trump last week issued an executive order prohibiting anyone from Syria and six other countries from travelling to the US.
“It just broke my heart, you know, when you’re waiting for your son and you prepare his room, you know how many clothes I buy for him. Everything destroyed because of Trump,” Duhman told The Associated Press in an interview “I feel it’s unfair that he can see his son growing up but we cannot just because we are Muslims.”
Duhman is a plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Seattle this week by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project that claims Trump’s order is unconstitutional and violates the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“We are facing families being torn apart in blatant disregard of the Constitution, in blatant disregard of the immigration laws that say you should not, cannot discriminate based on national origin when you are issuing visas,” said Matt Adams, a lawyer with the group. “And all of this in the name of security? No. That’s a joke. This is all about him carrying forward on his promise to ban Muslims.”
The case is one of many being filed across the country seeking to lift the travel ban on constitutional grounds. A federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order in one of these cases, prohibiting officials from enforcing the order.
A federal judge in Seattle will hear arguments on Friday for a nationwide restraining order in a case filed by Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson which claims the order is unconstitutional. Minnesota joined the case late on Wednesday.
Trump’s order is causing irreparable harm to the states’ residents, businesses, and education system and will reduce the state’s tax revenue, Ferguson said in court documents filed on Wednesday detailing why the state has legal standing to file the lawsuit.
The White House has argued that Trump’s immigration ban will make the country safer.
But Duhman said the only reason she came to the US was to escape the violence of the Syrian war and that she worried constantly about her son’s safety.
“All Syria is in a state of war even in places that are relatively safe, you never know,” she said. “Sometimes there are bombings. Sometimes there are kidnappings.”
Duhman said her boy is like any other and likes music, guitar and computers. “He’s so smart. He’s nice,” she said.
But the war has forced him into hiding, she said. She declined to disclose where in Syria he is living to protect his safety. “For three years he has not been able to go to school because he was too scared,” she said.
Trump’s travel ban is keeping her family apart and threatening her son’s life, she added.
“No justice system in heaven or earth can accept something like that; weare singled out just because we’re Muslims,” she said. “I am proud of being Muslim and we are not terrorists.”