HONOLULU: The Syrian grandmother at the center of HawaiiвЂ™s lawsuit challenging President Donald TrumpвЂ™s travel ban on people from six mostly Muslim countries arrived in Honolulu Saturday night.
Ismail Elshikh, the imam of a Honolulu mosque, said his 52-year-old mother-in-law Wafa Yahia received approval from the US government several weeks ago. She arrived at HonoluluвЂ™s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Saturday evening on a flight from San Francisco in a 28-hour journey that started in Lebanon, he said.
Elshikh is a plaintiff in HawaiiвЂ™s challenge to the travel ban. The lawsuit argues that the ban prevented his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting.
The complex legal wrangling over the travel ban is ongoing. A federal appeals court in Seattle is scheduled to hear arguments later this month in the governmentвЂ™s appeal of a judgeвЂ™s ruling in July that allows grandmothers and other family members of those in the US who may enter the country.
The US Supreme Court previously allowed a scaled-back version of the ban to go into effect before it hears the case in October. The justices exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a вЂњbona fideвЂќ relationship with a US citizen or entity.
вЂњThe news that Dr. ElshikhвЂ™s family is being reunited is one bright moment today when love trumped hate,вЂќ Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. вЂњIn America, no race should ever be excluded, no religion should ever be hated, and no family ever gets left behind.вЂќ
YahiaвЂ™s immigrant visa approval would not affect HawaiiвЂ™s lawsuit, Chin said: вЂњSo long as this discriminatory and illegal executive order is not struck down, the state of Hawaii and its residents are harmed.вЂќ
Two of ElshikhвЂ™s five children have never met her, he said. She last visited her family in Hawaii in 2005.
вЂњWithout the lawsuit, we couldnвЂ™t get the visa. Without this challenge, my children would not have been reunited with their grandma,вЂќ he said. вЂњI still feel sadness for those who are still affected by the Muslim ban, who are not as lucky as my family.вЂќ