By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — After spending 17 years separated from his Dearborn family, Yemen native Ali Ahmad hugged and kissed his family for the first time in the United States on Aug. 8.
The scene at Detroit Metropolitan Airport was filled with joy as Ahmad greeted his mother and father after a long flight from Yemen to Chicago to Detroit.
At the beginning of August, Ahmad was given a waiver and allowed entry the United States after 17 years. His journey to Detroit was delayed in Chicago when he couldn’t find a translator and was questioned by TSA employees resulting in him missing his connecting flight.
Once at Metro Airport Ahmad explained his joy and future plans through interpreter and family friend Saad Almasmari.
“I’m very happy because I got into the U.S. country, the land of freedom, and I saw my mom,” Ahmad told TV news cameras. “Thank God, I am very happy because I landed in America and hopefully everyone else will come.”
Ahmad said he plans to open a small business and contribute to the community.
The fight to get Ahmad into the United States began in 2002 when his father, Ahmed Ali Mohammed, filed a petition for a visa. Multiple requests for DNA, spending months and years making calls for appointments at the U.S. Embassy and a travel ban all stood in the way of Ahmad’s trip to Michigan.
In 2017, the visa was approved for Ahmad, but President Donald Trump’s travel ban delayed the reunion due to extra vetting by the United States for immigrants from Yemen.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])