Arrested by Trump, but welcome to Canada, this doctor is now stuck in Limbo

Canada, in contrast to its larger neighbor, has long been hailed by many as a symbol of compassion.

Four years ago, Canada opened its doors to Dr. Khalid Al-Millaji, who was banned from entering seven Muslim countries by an executive order issued by then-President Donald Trump – a move dubbed the “Muslim Journey”. Criticism ”by critics.

But most of the epiphany of the story flew under the radar. In fact, he is almost waiting for the final chapter.

A Syrian otolaryngologist was a graduate student in the United States. A.D. In January 2017, he found himself in Turkey following an aid mission on the border with his homeland. As a result of the Trump administration, his pregnant wife was barred from returning to the United States.

It was this White House policy that prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond. No small buzz tweet In this moment and in the months that follow, you will be welcomed by “Canadians, regardless of your faith, who are fleeing persecution, terror and war. Diversity is our strength “Welcome to the hashtag # Welcome to Canada”.

Alumni supporters in the academy world and humanitarian organizations in the United States and Canada have pulled the strings and allowed the University of Toronto to continue its studies in health informatics north of the border.

In June of that year, Ottawa granted him a student visa in Turkey and allowed him to meet his wife, Jehan Muhsen, and start a new life in Canada. His story has made headlines around the world.

Oakville, Jan. 8 - Khalid Al-Millaji, a Rhode Island international student, was barred from entering the United States by Trump in 2017.  Canada opened the door for him and his then-pregnant wife and offered him a scholarship to stay at the University of Toronto.  He came on a study permit, but in March 2019 he became a protected person in Canada and applied for permanent residency.  Three years later, he is waiting for a permanent residence permit in Canada.  Surprisingly, he found a private sponsorship team that sponsored his sister and family here.  Sister families have become permanent residents and are going to apply for citizenship by 2022.  Khalid Almilaji, wife of Jahan Muhsen, daughter Daria, 4, and son Omar, 1.5 years in Oakville.  January 8, 2022. Steve Russell / Toronto Star

Although Almilaji has made strides here since his arrival here, including the Canadian General Medallion, Canada’s permanent residence is still beyond his reach.

It has been almost three years since the asylum seeker and his wife applied for permanent residence, along with two Canadian-born children, Daria and Omar.

Although this was brought to Canada in September 2019, her older sister and her family are on their way to apply for citizenship by the end of this year through a personal refugee sponsorship.

“I am happy that my sister and her children are safe in Canada. “Because of the war and my humanitarian work, they have not been able to return to Syria,” he said.

“I do not feel bad. I’m just worried about my status and I try to think about the great things that have happened to me and the Canadians who have helped me and my friends. I am grateful to the Government of Canada and I am ashamed to complain.

Almilaji, 40, entered Canada on a student visa in June 2017 and was granted asylum in February 2019. A month later he applied for permanent residence. Muhsin, a 31-year-old doctor from Montenegro, came on a visitor’s visa despite being a refugee.

The visitor’s visa does not allow Mohsine to study or work in Canada, let alone travel abroad, not even to visit her father, a pediatrician in the Balkans.

“I have not been able to do anything in my career for the last four or five years. “I am not a permanent resident and I cannot even apply for medical treatment at a hospital,” he said. It is very difficult to practice and not be able to help during a cholera epidemic.

Processes for permanent residence applications may vary, but it generally takes longer for a protected person to obtain a permanent status than for immigrants in the economic and family category. It is not uncommon for approved immigrants to wait a year or two before obtaining a permanent residence permit.

Alimilaji, Canada, continues its humanitarian work in partnership with the Canadian International Medical Association. Displaced Syrians cross the border and receive medical treatment and treatment.

Almilaji formed the relief team in 2012 with two Canadians working on Turkish soil. A.D. And vaccinate 1.3 million children.

He and his two founders – Dr. Jay Dahman and paramedic Mark Cameron – were awarded the Medal of Excellence by the Governor-General of Canada in April 2017 while stuck in Turkey.

Almilaji Immigration Department has not updated its application on the online portal since October 2020.

Immigration Department spokeswoman Julie Laforton confirmed the couple had applied for a permanent residence permit in March 2019 and that the application was continuing.

“In the case of Mr. Almilaji, security screening has reached the stage. Security screening is done by partner agencies and is part of the formal process. The department has not been able to set a timeline for the results,” she said in an email.

Almilaji said he had been screened by both US and Canadian authorities after reviewing student visas and asylum applications in both countries.

“You had to pass national security clearance to go to the United States and come to Canada,” said Almilaji, who was re-issued a new U.S. student visa after Trump’s ban was lifted in U.S. courts, but was already in Toronto.

His sister, Yasmin Almilaji, said she could not return home without his brother’s help.

“I am very sorry for Khalid. He is a very caring person. He loves to help those in need. It’s very sad to see him suffer, ”said a mother of six who arrived here in 2019 as a permanent resident of a private refugee sponsor.

“Everything is now under control. The Canadian government seems to have forgotten. ”

Suwan Kelman, who has known the couple since they arrived, understands that the epidemic has created a backlash and disrupted the immigration process, but that Mililaji and Muhsin have a clear case and that the delay is unacceptable.

“This is a man who has been slapped in the face in the United States. We received him and his wife. We respected them. And now leave them in shock. ” Kelman, a retired professor of journalism at the University of Reykjavík, was one of those who helped bring her husband, Alan Fox Almilajin, to UTT.

“They have a great contribution to make to Canada and they are the people we choose to ignore.”

Nicholas Kyung is a Toronto-based reporter for The Star Immigration. Follow him on Twitter @nkeung

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