The quick implementation of President Donald Trump's executive order implementing a temporary ban on citizens of seven Middle East countries traveling to the U.S. has left families separated and confused, especially those who are dual citizens of one of the affected countries.
A doctoral student at the Colorado School of Mines outside of Denver, Colo., who asked we only identify him by his first name of Aamer for fear of being targeted by immigration authorities, is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is not under the travel ban.
Aamer's mother has been a citizen of the UAE for decades, but she was born in Syria and could be considered a dual citizen.
She is now unable to travel to the United States to visit her only son and has had to cancel an upcoming trip.
Aamer says his mother has had a long-standing tourist visa to the United States and visits multiple times a year for business.
"I knew it would affect a lot of people," he said. "Some of my friends, some family members who are fully Syrian, but I never thought it would affect my mom. Once I found out it did it devastated me. It made me just question everything."
Aamer has lived in the United States for nine years. He says he has always felt welcomed and considers it a second home. He says the protests at airports over the weekend give him hope, but can't help but worry for the future.
"As a Muslim and as an Arab, I feel like the world is against me right now," he said. "Those seven banned countries, they’re all Muslim, so who knows what else can happen. When you target a religious or ethnic minority that you’re affiliated with, that you are a part of then you feel it’s an attack on you as well."
Aamer says to visit his mother he will have to meet her in a different country or travel all the way home to the UAE, which puts him at risk for potential future executive orders.
"Now it’s going to be at the back of my head that every time I leave this country there might be a chance that when I come back it’s going to be a little harder or even impossible," he said.
Aamer says his mother no longer has a Syrian passport. He believes that means she shouldn't be considered a dual citizen, but any application for a U.S. visa includes listing ones country of birth, which for his mother is Syria.
The seven countries under the travel ban are Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.