Moral Low Ground

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Trump Ban Deprives Sick Children of Parents, Life-Saving Surgery

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad needs life-saving heart surgery but has been barred from the United States under President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven mostly Muslim nations. (family photo)

President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven mainly Muslim countries is having life-or-death consequences for one Iranian baby, while separating a badly burned Iraqi toddler being treated in Boston from his parents.

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad, who is Iranian, has severe structural abnormalities and two holes in her heart, CNN reports. The baby’s parents were scheduled to meet with doctors in Portland, Oregon — where their American relatives also live — but were prohibited from traveling to the US under Trump’s 90-day entry ban on people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Fatemeh and her parents boarded a flight to Dubai on Saturday but they were sent back to Iran and told to reapply for a visa in 90 days.

Relatives fear Fatemeh won’t live that long. The infant suffers from a ventricular septal defect (VSD), a congenital defect in which holes occur in the wall that separates the heart’s lower chambers and allows blood to pass from the left to the right side of the heart. Doctors in Tehran sent Fatemeh’s echocardiogram results to doctors in Portland, Oregon, who concluded the baby urgently needed multiple surgeries, and that her chances of survival were much better in the United States.

Fatemeh’s uncle Sam Taghizadeh is an American citizen who lives in Portland with his parents, Fatemeh’s grandparents, who are also Americans, said Trump’s ban makes him feel as if he is not a citizen. “Because we’re born in Iran, it’s like he ignores me as a citizen,” Taghizadeh told KOIN. “My niece is 4-months-old coming to here for surgery, you’re scared of her?” Taghizadeh said. “What’s she going to do? Is she dangerous?”

Meanwhile, a badly burned Iraqi boy hospitalized in Boston is now stranded in the US and separated from his parents after Trump’s ban. Dilbreen, age 2, and his family are Yazidis from Iraq who fled from Islamic State fighters in 2014. CBS Boston reports Dilbreen was severely injured when a heater exploded in the Iraqi refugee camp where he and his family were sheltering. The toddler and his father flew to the US thanks to the British NGO Road to Peace, where he was treated at Shriner’s Hospital in Boston. Dilbreen’s father returned to Iraq following preliminary surgery to be with his wife as she gave birth to another baby boy.

It was November 8, US election day. They named their new son Trump.

Dilbreen’s second surgery was scheduled for February. Visas were obtained for his parents to join him in Massachusetts. Suddenly they were informed that their visas were revoked following the executive order signed by their new son’s namesake.

Democratic officials in both Oregon and Massachusetts are fighting for Fatemeh and Dilbreen. “I find it deplorable that an infant who was supposed to come to Oregon to receive much needed life-saving care was not able to access that care,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said.

“The problem now here is the time,” Taghizadeh, Fatemeh’s uncle, told KOIN. “If they [are] going to make [the ban] for long time, maybe one month, we’re going to lose that baby.”

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Trump, calling the executive order “harmful, discriminatory and unconstitutional.” Dilbreen, who has surgery scheduled on February 5, is staying with relatives in Michigan while he awaits a reunion with his parents. However, while Healey’s lawsuit would protect immigrants and visa holders already in the United States, it is unclear if it would help the boy, his parents or their newborn son named Trump.

President Trump’s executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” notes the “crucial role” visa screening plays in preventing terrorists from entering the United States, citing “the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans” on September 11, 2001 as a warning. But 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Two were citizens of the United Arab Emirates.The remaining two were Egyptian and Lebanese. None of those countries — in which Trump has considerable business interests — is included in the ban. There have been no fatal terrorist attacks in the United States by immigrants from the seven banned nations. The United States is currently bombing or has recently bombed six of the seven nations on the banned list and has bombed all of them within the past 20 years.

Meanwhile, Americans statistically have a higher chance of being killed by lightning, falling furniture, armed toddlers or right-wing extremists than by an Islamist terrorist, even as President Trump is reportedly seeking to rename the government’s “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program to “Countering Islamic Extremism” and re-focus the program solely on what the president calls “radical Islamic terrorism.”

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