CSU Ph.D candidate caught in travel ban court fight

9NEWS @ 5. 2/6/2017

KUSA - A Colorado State University doctoral student is stuck in Iraq as he tries to get a visa to return to Fort Collins.  

Saddam Waheed hasn't been able to get travel clearance because of President Trump's travel ban

Waheed's trip home to Iraq in January was supposed to be a time to celebrate: he had a new wife and was excelling as a Ph.D candidate in hydrology at CSU.

Then, he says, came the travel ban.

“It was like a big shock for me," Waheed said. "Like it was unbelievable. My tears were unstoppable at the time.”

Waheed and his wife have an appointment to get a visa Wednesday. 
           
He is one of three CSU students impacted by the new rules regarding refugees and other citizens from seven mostly Muslim countries.

Trump said the restrictions are temporary and designed to protect the country from Islamic terrorists until new vetting procedures can be put in place.

It caught Waheed by surprise. 

“We are one of the countries that suffers from terrorism. We are fighting terrorists," Waheed told 9NEWS from his home in Baghdad, Waheed. "So this is completely unfair.”
           
A federal judge has halted the ban for now. 

“This is an incredibly fast moving legal landscape where it seems like every time we turn around, there's a new order,” Cesar Garcia-Hernandez said, a University of Denver assistant professor of law.

Federal district judges have put the ban on hold, but now it's up to appellate courts to decide whether Trump's immigration ban can be implemented.

“The key question is whether or not the administration or the president has exceeded the authority by issuing these blanket bans [of] no refugees from Muslim majority countries,” Garcia-Hernandez said. 

It's a question the Supreme Court may have to answer if appellate courts can't.

Waheed says CSU is doing what it can to help.

If he's able to complete his degree in Colorado, he says he'll return to Iraq to work on hydrology programs there.

Another CSU Ph.D student returned from Libya on Sunday after she was stranded abroad during a trip to care for her ailing parents. She was able to come back into the U.S. after the Seattle judge's ruling. 

Oral arguments in the challenge to Trump's travel ban are scheduled for late Tuesday.

9NEWS is in contact with Waheed and will update this story as we learn more. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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