Astrid Riecken / EPA
Their court case made headlines on Friday after an attorney for the Justice Department said in the hearing that “over 100,000” visas had been revoked in the days after the temporary immigration ban was enacted — a number the State Department quickly disputed, saying the number of cancelled visas was closer to 60,000.
Upon landing the brothers expressed relief at being in America, where they both plan to attend college.
“Thank you all, we are so happy we are here. I want to continue my studying,” Anmar Aziz told reporters at the airport this morning.
According to the Virginia
lawsuit, the executive order took effect while the Aziz brothers were mid-flight. Upon landing on January 28, the brothers were handcuffed, detained, and pressured to sign English-language forms they couldn’t read that cancelled their Lawful Permanent Resident status. The brothers were then put on a flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — which is simply where their flight via Djibouti had last stopped.
“When we arrived here there was a police officer waiting for us,” Tareq Aziz said at the airport Monday. “We were like, why?”
The boys’ father, Aqel Muhammed Aziz, said that his sons had nowhere to go upon being sent to Ethiopia.
“They stayed in the airport for maybe four days. Just on the floor, sleeping,” Aziz said on Monday, who has lived in Michigan since 2001.
Attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center said the way the ban was enforced violated the brothers’ rights: “No interpreters were provided to them, and they were put right back on the plane they arrived from.”
“There were at least 50 lawyers standing where we are right now,” attorney Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg told reporters at Dulles. “And the first thing they would have said if they were allowed back there is: don’t sign that form.”
The Aziz family wasn’t the only one reunited on Monday. The Al Murisi family — also Yemeni, traveling with five children — also arrived at Dulles after being stranded for a week, and immigrants from various countries began to stream into U.S. airports as a result of the ban’s temporary stay.
As the Aziz brothers prepared to leave Dulles for their final destination in Michigan, Legal Aid Justice Center attorney Amy Woolard remarked on Twitter that the young men were in good spirits despite the challenges they endured.
“A total cruel nightmare inflicted on these families & still they are so happy to be here, only have gratitude,” Woolard
tweeted. “The boys are so young.”
Associated Press reported that Iranian researcher Nima Enayati, on a visa to conduct robotic surgery researcher at Stanford, arrived Sunday night at JFK in New York. He had been prevented from boarding a flight the previous week.
“It feels great finally I’m here,” Enayati said at JFK. “Considering the last 10 days we had no idea if we’ll be able to make it or not.”