A Yemenite Jew was detained in JFK airport for over three hours this week as US President Donald Trump issued a travel ban from seven Muslim countries, including Yemen.
Manny Dahari, a student at Yeshiva University, has lived in the United States since the age of 13 and holds a green card.
For two years, Dahari worked with the US State Department and Jewish Agency to get his family out of Yemen in a lobbying effort that ultimately saw his parents airlifted from the war-torn country to Israel last year, along with 15 other Yemenite Jews in a covert operation.
He was scheduled to fly back to New York from Israel over the weekend, but his plans were complicated by the travel ban, which initially covered US green card holders born in one of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen.
“Truth is, there is a possibility I won’t be able to get on that plane back home,” Dahari wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “This is truly a nightmare. I never thought Mr. Trump’s decisions would affect me in anyway. I have been living in the United States for almost 11 years. I’ve waited many years and spent thousands of dollars to obtain my green-card and in few months, I’m supposed to be getting my citizenship. I have done everything legally!”
Dahari wrote that he was “a bit nervous” about the flight.
The next day, he posted on his social media profile that he had been released after three and a half hours in detention at the New York airport.
“I escaped ‘my country’ as a kid because of religious persecution to seek refuge in a country I never thought would turn its back on the people who need its help. A country that has opened its doors to immigrants and refugees from across the globe,” he wrote in the post Saturday.
In few hours I will try to board a plane from Israel to #JFK as a Yemeni (Jew) citizen, a refugee, and a green-card…
“For my friends who have been celebrating Mr. Trump’s decision, you should know this does not only affect Muslims, but it also affects thousands of Jews and Christians escaping war and religious persecutions. I hope you take a moment to think about it.”
They finally let me go after 3.5 hours in detention. Thanks to everyone for the help!
Israel said Monday it was seeking clarification on whether US President Donald Trump’s travel ban applies to tens of thousands of Israeli Jews born in Middle Eastern countries.
Eleven years ago, when he was 13 years old, Dahari moved to the United States from Yemen in order to escape the uncertainty and violence there. Another brother also moved to the US, but the two did not live together, Dahari told The Times of Israel last year. In October 2015, four of his siblings joined Dahari’s brother, Naftali in Israel, living in an apartment in an absorption center in Beersheba. His parents arrived in Israel in the Jewish Agency operation in March 2016.
The executive order signed on Friday banned nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries for 90 days but has sparked confusion in its interpretation, with people unsure whether they can travel.
Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the decree, including around 45,000 Iranians and 53,000 Iraqis, according to official statistics.
The majority are over the age of 65 and many fled persecution. Their Israeli passports say where they were born.
This picture. pic.twitter.com/YqRZymQmY8
— Guy Cecil (@guycecil) January 31, 2017
Judah Ari Gross and AFP contributed to this report.