(ATLANTA, GA – 2/12/2018) — The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today announced that Mohamed Al-Bitar, a Syrian grandfather suffering from eye cancer, has arrived in Atlanta for medical treatment after receiving a waiver to the Trump administration’s “Muslim Ban.”
On Saturday, February 9, Al-Bitar and his wife arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where they were reunited with their Georgia-based family members, including a daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.
“We thank everyone who said a prayer for this family, and we thank everyone who worked with us in the hope of saving Mr. Al-Bitar’s life,” said CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “Despite the delay in his cancer treatment, we are hopeful that he will recover, and thankful that he is with his family.”
Mitchell added: “This case highlights the human cost of transforming anti-immigrant bigotry into government policy. We never had anything to fear from a sick grandfather seeking cancer treatment. The Muslim Ban, in all its forms, must come to an end.”
“Even as we celebrate this victory, we must remember that many American families remain divided because of the Muslim Ban, while many DREAMERs and other immigrants continue to face the threat of deportation,” said Ruwa Romman, communications director for CAIR Georgia.
The family asks for privacy as Al-Bitar undergoes cancer treatment and does not plan to conduct any media interviews at this time.
Background on the Case:
Al-Bitar — who visited Georgia in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to spend time with his Georgia relatives — was diagnosed with a cancerous eye tumor last year. The tumor requires a unique medical treatment that is unavailable in Syria or surrounding Middle Eastern nations. A hospital in Atlanta, however, was able and willing to offer the procedure, which Al-Bitar is paying for himself.
His first application for a visa to return to the United States for medical treatment was denied by the State Department, so he applied a second time with assistance from CAIR-Georgia and a local elected official.
Al-Bitar’s second visa application was then delayed by “administrative processing,” which included review of the Trump Administration’s new DS-5535 form. The form requires selected immigrants to share additional information about their social media accounts, family members and past employment.
His completed form was still under review when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated President Trump’s third Muslim Ban, banning Syrian nationals from traveling to the United States.
In December, CAIR-Georgia sought a waiver to the Muslim Ban, directly calling on the Trump administration to make an exception for Al-Bitar, whose doctors urged him to receive treatment by December in order to achieve the best prospect of recovery.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell; 404-285-9530; [email protected]