Yemeni Girl Stuck in Africa Flying to California While Trump’s Travel Ban Remains Blocked

With President Donald Trump's travel ban temporarily lifted, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl is coming back to the United States to be reunited with her family.

Eman Ali, who has spent the last week struck in Djibouti, is slated to land in San Francisco on Sunday after a federal judge temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Since Saturday, the girl and her father, Ahmed Ali, have been in limbo, blocked from coming to America, despite going through all the necessary legal steps.

The family's attorney Katy Lewis said the duo will board a flight in under six hours. Then, at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, a Turkish Airlines plane will transport them to San Francisco International Airport. 

Seattle-based U.S. District Judge James Robart's temporary restraining order, allowed Eman and Ahmed Ali to board the flight, according to Lewis.

The judge's temporary ruling was countered Saturday when the Justice Department appealed the decision, arguing that Friday's injunction "immediately harms the public by thwarting enforcement of an Executive Order issued by the President, based on his national security judgment." Hours later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, denied the Justice Department's request to reimplement the travel ban. Nothing will change in court until, at the very earliest, Monday morning.

The uncertain state of the travel ban has immigration and civil rights attorneys clamoring travelers to make a beeline for the states before any new changes to the order are implemented.

"We are advising people to get here as soon as possible," Brittney Rezaei, a civil rights attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Saturday.

Eager family members of travelers on Sunday waited outside the international arrivals section of SFO holding welcome signs.

Others flashed banners offering legal assistance. A number of lawyers are expected to offer legal guidance throughout the day to those with questions about the immigration order.

A Southern California district court's temporary restraining order against the immigration order gave the Ali family some hope earlier in the week. But Lewis said it was not as simple as showing a travel document to airport officials and getting on a plane. There's been too much confusion about how the executive order works. 

So the duo were forced to stay in Djibouti.

"She is really sad," Ahmed Ali said at the time. "She is expecting to go to the USA to see her mom, her sisters and everything will be OK."

From his hotel room, stuck in Djibouti, Ahmed told NBC Bay Area how he and Eman were steps away from boarding a plane Saturday, only to be turned away because of the president's order. The rest of Iman's family lives in Los Banos, citizens of the United States. Eman was born in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Stanford University student Hadil Al-Mowafak is hoping the ban is lifted for good. The 21-year-old is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed Friday in San Francisco by the ACLU.

Arguing that the travel ban is unconstitutional, Al-Mowafak said it will prevent her from being able to go home to Yemen and see her husband while pursuing her education in the United States.

"I can't imagine not seeing [him] for a year, let alone four years,” she said.

For her part, Al-Mowafak says she is proud to fight for travel freedoms.

"I am holding on to hope," she said.

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