Minnesota man reunited with wife, kids caught in travel ban

Mahamed Iye hugs his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille
Mahamed Iye hugs his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille as she emerged from customs at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport. After days of uncertainty regarding her travel status, Ahmed's visa was honored after a judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order on President Trump's travel ban.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Mahamed Iye, 66, couldn't stop smiling as he waited near the baggage carousel at the Twin Cities airport Sunday afternoon. Waiting along with him were a half dozen reporters.

Iye's reunion with his wife Saido Abdille and daughters — ages 2 and 4 — is a scene that's played out thousands of times for Somali-Americans in Minnesota.

But this reunion almost didn't happen.

Mahamed Iye greets his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille.
Mahamed Iye greets his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille, right, and their two children at the airport.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

"We're going to find the time that we missed together, so we're going to spend time with the family," said Iye, speaking through an interpreter.

Iye said one of the first things he's going to do is find medical treatment for his four-year-old, who suffers from microcephaly. She was unable to get adequate treatment in east Africa.

Iye is an American citizen. So are the girls. But Abdille is a Somali national. Even though she got her visa last month after a four year vetting process, Trump's 90-day travel ban meant she couldn't board her flight out of Nairobi.

The State Department reported last week that as many as 60,000 people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia had their visas canceled.

While carrying his older daughter, Mahamed Iye smiles.
While carrying his older daughter, Mahamed Iye smiles at his youngest daughter, right, carried by a family friend Suado Abdikadir (in purple) after his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille, left, and two children arrived safely.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

But on Friday, Seattle Federal Judge James Robart — a George W. Bush appointee — temporarily blocked Trump's order. The ruling came after Washington state's attorney general Bob Ferguson and his Minnesota counterpart, Lori Swanson, filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. Early Sunday, an appeals court in San Francisco declined a request from the Trump Administration to reinstate it.

It's unclear whether Abdille could have entered the U.S. without the court order; authorities had been granting exemptions prior to the ruling.

"I've been feeling a lot of worry that I might not get the trip and I might not make it here," said Abdille.

Mahamed Iye greets his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille and their two children.
Mahamed Iye greets his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille and their two children. Saido was living in Nairobi, Kenya, but has a Somali passport.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Abdille said she had no trouble with immigration officials after her connecting flight from Amsterdam landed at the airport Sunday.

Iye and Abdille are plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit filed by immigration advocacy groups in Minnesota. Their co-plaintiffs, Farshid Zadeh, a legal permanent U.S. resident, and his wife Samaneh Raghimi, an Iranian citizen, were flying back from Tehran the day President Trump signed the executive order.

Raghimi is now planning to fly to Minneapolis, following a separate judge's ruling in Washington state. She expects to land at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport later Monday.

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