CHICAGO (CBS) — A doctor at Advocate Christ Medical Center who traveled to the United Arab Emirates to get married has now been stranded by the Trump administration’s travel ban, and cannot return to Chicago because he was born in Syria.
At 24 years old, Dr. Amer Al Homssi was looking forward to finishing his internal medicine residency in Chicago, according to his attorney, Thomas Durkin.
However, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, U.S. officials cancelled Al Homssi’s visa.
“A diagonal line right through it from corner to corner, and whoever wrote it said it’s cancelled, and then it has the executive order and the number,” Durkin said.
Al Homssi cannot return to the U.S., and cannot stay in the United Arab Emirates, so he might be forced to go back to Syria. Although it is technically his homeland, Al Homssi hasn’t been to Syria since he was 17, Durkin said.
“He could end up back in Damascus, where he’s never lived, and which is a war zone. It’s an insane Catch-22,” Durkin said.
Al Homssi has filed a federal lawsuit against Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, challenging the president’s executive order. Durkin called the travel ban “absurd.”
“I believe he’s in this dilemma because he’s a Muslim, pure and simple,” Durkin said of his client. “It’s a classic ‘Ugly American’ situation, I think.”
Dr. Zaher Shaloul, a critical care specialist at Advocate Christ, said Al Homssi’s future could be ruined, because – according to rules already in place before Trump’s order – he has only one month to return to the residency program, or his position will be eliminated.
“This is the wrong person to prevent from coming. He’s not a threat to anyone. He’s actually saving lives,” Sahloul said.
Al Homssi’s colleagues came to the courthouse to support him on Wednesday.
“I sent him a message over WhatsApp, just saying ‘We’re thinking about you. We care about you,’ and that’s about it,” Dr. Arya Nikamal said. “He says that, ‘I appreciate it, thank you very much, and hopefully this will be resolved soon.’”
At least one other lawsuit has been filed against the Trump administration in federal court in Chicago.
The second case involves a father who left the country to care for his sick mother in Iran. That man is a legal permanent resident who lives in Chicago with his wife and three kids, but was refused a plane ticket back to the U.S. after Trump signed the travel ban on Friday. His lawyers have identified him only as “John Doe.”
Hearings on both lawsuits were scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Each case has been assigned to a separate judge.