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Cleveland Clinic Medical Trainee Sues to Come Back to U.S.

By ProPublica  
   February 02, 2017

A Cleveland Clinic doctor barred from entering the United States over the weekend by President Donald Trump’s travel ban is suing the president and his administration, seeking a writ of habeas corpus and an order that would allow her to come back.

This article first appeared February 1, 2017 on ProPublica.

By Charles Ornstein

The president's executive order barred visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days while the government comes up with methods to more thoroughly screen them. The order, however, has ensnared doctors like Suha Abushamma, a first-year internal medicine resident, who already had been working in this country and were abroad when it was signed.

Abushamma, a Sudanese citizen, was visiting family in Saudi Arabia when friends encouraged her to come back quickly because of rumors about a Trump travel ban. Abushamma landed in the U.S. at 11 a.m. Saturday and was held for about nine hours before being forced to leave the country. Her plane took off around the same time as a federal district judge in Brooklyn issued a temporary stay blocking the government from removing people like her.

ProPublica interviewed her while she was flying back to Saudi Arabia and published a story before she landed.

Abushamma's situation has attracted attention from the leadership of the Cleveland Clinic, as well as Ohio's two senators. Lawyers for the firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, working pro bono on Abushamma's behalf, filed an amended petition Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn asking the judge to let her come back into the country. During a hectic stretch on Saturday, lawyers had filed an emergency application to prevent her from being kicked out, but the petition was not acted upon before she left.

The lawsuit contends that Abushamma was denied access to a lawyer and was unlawfully removed. It says she was told that she either had to voluntarily withdraw her visa application and leave the country or be deported, which would have prevented her from returning for five years. Abushamma asked an officer and supervisor with Customs and Border Protection to allow her to wait for the results of the legal hearing, but her request was denied.

In their legal pleadings filed Tuesday, Abushamma's lawyers note that the federal district judge in Brooklyn, Ann Donnelly, told the government's lawyers on Saturday night, "I'm going to direct you, if there's somebody right now who is in danger of being removed, I am going to direct you to communicate that I have imposed a stay. Nobody is to be removed in this class, okay?"

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

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