CLEVELAND, Ohio– The Cleveland Clinic resident who was affected by President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order said she’s happy to be home, after returning to the United States Monday.
Dr. Suha Abushamma, a first-year internal medicine resident and Sudanese national, was sent back to Saudi Arabia after being detained for nine hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City last month.
Her valid work visa was canceled in the process, which played out in the chaotic first hours after President Trump signed the order banning travelers from seven mostly-Muslim countries for 90 days. She had been returning from visiting family in Saudi Arabia when she was denied entry.
Abushamma returned to work at the Clinic Tuesday.
“Let me start by saying how happy I am to be back in Cleveland with my friends, my fiancé and all the people I consider as part of my family; I missed everyone so much. I’m excited to continue on with my work here at the Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “I chose training here in the United States because it’s the best medical training in the world.”
Clinic employees and Abushamma’s attorneys greeted her upon her return to JFK Airport Monday, then accompanied her back to Cleveland.
“This is a family here and this family came together like I’ve never seen before to bring back this amazing physician,” said immigration attorney David Leopold.
Leopold said he and other attorneys representing Abushamma took advantage of an opening created by a federal judge in Washington state who suspended the travel ban Friday.
“What we saw in the last 72 hours was a window, and we grabbed it,” Leopold said.
They worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and State Department to arrange for her to return with a visa waiver retaining the same worker status she previously had.
“We’re not taking a political stance at this point, but we are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to try to influence change,” said Cleveland Clinic Executive Director of Corporate Communications Eileen Sheil.
Attorneys said Abushamma would be dismissing her lawsuit against President Trump, in which she sought a return to the U.S., though she remains part of a class action suit.
“While this has been a challenge for me in many ways, today I’m feeling much gratitude and I’m looking forward to getting back to work and putting patients first,” Abushamma said.
A federal appeals court is expected to decide soon on whether the travel ban should remain suspended. However, Abushamma’s attorneys said that should not impact her since she is now here legally, though they advised her against leaving the country again.
Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted about Dr. Suha Abushamma:
“Turning away drs here to help ppl is cruel, foolish & never should have happened. Welcome back Dr. Suha Abushamma-SB”