Djibouti

Yemeni Student is Among Thousands to Win U.S. Visa, Only to Have It Ef…

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Thousands of Yemenis and other nationals from countries covered by Trump’s travel ban are currently stranded in different parts of the world as the State Department refuses to honor the fact that they won a U.S. government immigration lottery. Many of the thousands, who won the right to apply for a green card through the U.S. diversity visa program lottery, have already sold their homes and cars, left their jobs, even relocated to places like Djibouti, Malaysia and other countries, in anticipation of their move to the United States. Their eligibility to receive green cards under the program will end only three days after the travel ban is slated to expire on September 27th, meaning their applications will likely not be processed in time. Former State Department official Stephen Pattison, who will join us in a moment, said, quote, “Taking this away from people who have won it is the cruelest possible thing this administration could do. It makes us look petty and cruel as a society,” he said.

Earlier this week, the International Red Cross issued a rare statement, saying it’s extremely alarmed by the recent wave of airstrikes in Yemen, which have killed dozens of civilians and hit homes in public spaces, such as markets. The airstrikes are being carried out by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is deepening, with more than 400,000 people reportedly suffering from cholera, looming famine, with the United Nations warning 19 million of Yemen’s 28 million people are in need of some form of aid.

Well, for more right now, we’re joined by several guests. In Chennai, India, we’re joined on Democracy Now! video stream by Hamed Sufyan Almaqrami, a 29-year-old Yemeni Ph.D. student in applied linguistics who’s at university in Tamil Nadu, India. He was awarded a diversity visa in 2016 but, due to Trump’s travel ban, is now stranded in India. And in Washington, D.C., we’re joined by his attorney, Yolanda Rondon of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC. Her group’s suing the State Department over the diversity visa winner denials and delays.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Hamed, let’s begin with you in India. Tell us your story. How did you apply for—to be in this lottery? And tell us your reaction when you won, and then what you did about it.

HAMED SUFYAN ALMAQRAMI: Well, as anybody in the world who dreams of United States of America, dreams to enter the land of freedom, the land of dignity, I was one of them. And I applied through this program at October 2015. And on May 2016, I had been notified that I have been selected for a diversity visa.

So, at that time, I was here in India doing the first chair of my Ph.D. degree in linguistics. So, I had to go back to my Yemen, to Yemen, to my country, Yemen, in order to get some

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