March 14, 2017. As U.S. President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban takes effect, an upcoming Fault Lines documentary on Al Jazeera highlights the consequences of a blanket policy that closes America’s doors to those with the most to lose. Last week, Trump suspended America’s entire refugee program for 120 days and signed a revised 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
His initial travel ban was suspended on legal grounds within a week, but for some families, the damage was already done.
The Ban tells the stories of a pair of siblings in Turkey, aged six and two, in need of life-saving medical treatment, and a two-year-old cut off from his parents.
Abdul Ghani Abdul Jawad’s six-year-old son, Yahya, had a rare genetic disorder called Omenn Syndrome, a severe immunodeficiency, which can be cured with a bone marrow transplant. The Syrian family were due to travel from Turkey to the U.S. in December for treatment but at that point, Abdul Ghani’s youngest son, two-year-old Abdul Jawad, was too sick to fly. Their trip was postponed to 1 February 2017, but then cancelled. Some sources suggest the family’s security clearance may have lapsed, but Trump’s executive order would have stopped their trip anyway.
Days later, Yahya’s health took a turn for the worse. “He got sicker after he heard he wasn’t traveling anymore,” says his father. “He was badly affected. Very badly affected.”
Yahya passed away during the making of the documentary, a child in an adult ICU at a hospital that lacked a pediatric ward.
According to medical records, Yahya’s brother Abdul Jawad probably has the same condition. His health is deteriorating as UNHCR looks to move the family to Germany instead.
“Where’s the terrorism in them? Look at them,” an emotional Abdul Ghani says about his sons in the documentary.