SA dentist from Syria questions need for travel ban

Family members unable to leave ongoing bloodshed

SAN ANTONIO – The need for President Trump’s revised travel ban, effective March 16, is being questioned by a successful San Antonio dentist from Syria, who said it’s preventing family members from leaving the country’s ongoing civil war.

“I have no idea how he can make a decision based on zero proof,” Dr. Bassam Abazid said.

He said that not a single refugee has been responsible for a terrorist attack in the U.S.

“They just want to live peacefully. That’s all they want,” he said.

Abazid said he and his wife worry that anything could happen during the 90-day ban.

Although their family lives in southern Syria, he said, “Any time, any minute, the fight can start. Bombing can start any minute.”

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“Every time we hear something in the news, she’s rushing to call her dad. I rush to call my sister,” Abazid said.

However, he said that phone service often goes out in a country where electricity, as well as food and water are, is in short supply.

They worry for good reason, he said.

One of Abazid’s sisters was killed two years ago when a missile ripped through her home. He said her two children and husband are now refugees living in Germany after a harrowing journey through Turkey.  

He said his other sister’s son nearly drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after a refugee boat capsized.

“An Italian ship saw them and they rescued them,” Abazid said. He said his nephew finally made it to Germany.

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He said he would “absolutely love” to bring his sister to America, and his wife came so close to having her father in the U.S.

Abazid said that his father-in-law, in his seventies, a physician like four others in his family, had been approved for a visa, and was scheduled for another interview.

“But the appointment got canceled because of Trump’s decision,” Abazid said.

He said his wife is “very, very said, very depressed about it. She just wants her dad.”

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About a year after arriving in San Antonio, Abazid became a board member of the Catholic Charities, the city’s largest and oldest refugee agency.

He said after learning about all the work Catholic Charities does, “I was like, I want to help. I want to do everything I can to help.”

Abazid said his prayer is that America will treat refugees the way he was treated nearly 20 years ago.

“I want to see like the way people welcomed me in 1999 when I came. I wish for that to always be,” he said.

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