Abushamma had left the U.S. Monday to visit family in Saudi Arabia and then travel to Sudan. Friends alerted her on Wednesday about the possibility that Trump would sign an executive order that could make it difficult for her to return. Though she had planned to be out of the country for two more weeks, she moved quickly to change her plans, obtain a new visa and come back to the U.S. early. “She picked up her passport from the U.S. embassy, changed her flight and came as quickly as she could but she wasn’t able to make the stroke of the pen,” said her friend, Faris El-Khider, who is a gastroenterology fellow at the Cleveland Clinic and is from Sudan. “She was basically racing against Trump.”
On Saturday evening, Abushamma was forced to make a choice by Customs and Border Protection agents: She could leave the country voluntarily and withdraw her visa — or she could be forcibly deported, which would have prevented her from coming back to the United States for at least five years.The Clinic issued a statement confirming that it's working on solutions for Abushamma and the other employees affected by the ban.
The latter also would have resulted in a permanent black mark on her immigration record.She asked for a delay but was refused, she said in a FaceTime interview with ProPublica while she was flying over the Atlantic on her way back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not one of the countries on Trump’s list, but because Abushamma’s passport is from Sudan, she was told she is covered by the executive order.“I’m only in this country to be a doctor, to work and to help people — that’s it,” she said. “There’s no other reason.”
Recent immigration action taken by the White House has caused a great deal of uncertainty and has impacted some of our employees who are traveling overseas. We are fully committed and actively working toward the safe return of any of our employees who have been affected by this action.