HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — For many families in metro-Detroit, the first day of Joe Biden’s presidency was not about politics, it was about family. One of the first actions President Joe Biden took was repealing travel restrictions that critics called the “Muslim Travel Ban.”
When President Trump campaigned for his first term he said, “I am calling for a complete and total ban on Muslims coming into this country.”
The executive order that followed his election banned refugees from numerous predominantly Muslim countries from travel to the United States.
“People are getting killed left and right,” said Sam Alasri, of the Yemeni American Political Action Committee here in metro-Detroit.
Alasri says President Trump’s ban led to the deaths of many people with loved ones who are U.S. citizens here in Michigan. President Trump said it was about security policies in the countries impacted and the ability to do background checks, not religion. Alasri says when he heard that he thought of toddlers he knew, kept from coming to America.
“What are you talking about, two-years-old? How are you going to check the background of a two-year-old.? What is a two-year-old going to do?” he said.
Alasri came to the United States as a child in 1991 when his father took a job at Ford Motor Company. He is a U.S. citizen. He says as he watched President Joe Biden’s inauguration, he thought about his son’s fiancée in war-torn Yemen. He thought about his aunt who is sick and wanted to come to the United States for medical care.
“And I am celebrating with them and am so glad this is over,” said Alasri.
“I felt extra special to be here for the inauguration,” said Liane Kufchock, a metro-Detroit attorney who specializes in immigration law.
Kufchock spent Inauguration Day in Washington D.C. She wanted to witness the first woman elected to be Vice President take office and celebrate changes she says will help the people she serves.
“I am so thrilled that one of the first things President Biden did was lift the Muslim ban,” she said.
She says as an immigration attorney, she expects the process to remain challenging for many who want to come to the United States, but no longer impossible.
President Biden said when visa applicants request entry to the United States, they will be rigorously checked out.
The list of countries impacted by the ban that is being repealed changed through President Trump’s term. The most current version impacted refugees from five countries that are majority-Muslim, including Yemen, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Somalia. It also impacted North Korea and Venezuela.