Chicago medical resident returns, days after visa “cancelled”

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Amer Al Homssi, center, flanked by his attorneys, speaks to reporters after arriving at O'Hare International Airport on Thursday morning, days after being barred from returning to the United States.

Amer Al Homssi, center, flanked by his attorneys, speaks to reporters after arriving at O’Hare International Airport on Thursday morning, days after being barred from returning to the United States.

An airplane carrying Amer Al Homssi arrived at O’Hare International Airport on Thursday morning, four days after the medical resident was barred by U.S. officials from returning after he had traveled to Abu Dhabi for his wedding.

Over the weekend, Al Homssi became swept up in the chaos after President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order severely restricting travel to the United States by citizens of seven Muslim majority countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Attorney Thomas A. Durkin filed suit on Tuesday challenging the legality of the executive order, prompting an agreement by a U.S. attorney outside a federal courtroom on Wednesday that Al Homssi, whose visa had been marked “cancelled” by U.S. officials in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, could return.

By Thursday morning Al Homssi had landed in Chicago, where he was greeted by attorneys, relatives, friends and colleagues from Advocate Christ Medical Center, and he was quickly making plans to return to his patients.

“I’m very grateful to those who helped me which would be my lawyers and the government lawyers who were gracious enough to allow me in,” Al Homssi told reporters shortly after retrieving his luggage at O’Hare’s international arrivals terminal, where protesters and attorneys had gathered over the weekend to decry the executive order that Trump signed last Friday restricting entry of refugees and citizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

A group of volunteer attorneys remained stationed at the terminal Thursday to assist travelers. Several of them waited at the luggage carousel to welcome Al Homssi, a Syrian citizen with legal residency in the United Arab Emirates, with hand-painted signs.

Thomas Durkin, Al Homssi’s attorney, told reporters he was limiting his client’s comments to the press because the federal lawsuit is still pending. Durkin said he expects the settlement between Al Homssi and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the State Department to be signed next Thursday.

After leaving the airport, Al Homssi was headed to the hospital to be briefed on his patients’ conditions before going home to get rest. Armand Krikorian, Al Homssi’s residency program director, said the hospital relied on extra help to care for Al Homssi’s patients in his absence, and that he could return to work in as soon as Friday.

“He’s part of our learning community and he doesprovide excellent patient care in the hospital,” Krikorian said. “His patients, his colleagues, his teachers, they’re all eagerly waiting for him.”

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