By Urvashi Verma
U.S. officials confirmed late Wednesday that Chicago-bound Syrian national Dr. Amer al Homssi, holder of a valid U.S. visa who was prevented from returning to the United States last Sunday, will be allowed to re-enter the country on Thursday.
“They called us at 8:15 this morning and asked us if we wanted to settle,” said al Homssi’s lawyer, Thomas Anthony Durkin of Chicago. “I give credit to the government lawyers,” Durkin said in a press conference Wednesday at the Dirksen Federal Building.
Al Homssi, an internal medicine resident at Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, was stopped at the Abu Dhabi airport when trying to board a flight back to Chicago. He filed a lawsuit in Chicago federal district court against President Donald Trump on Monday morning.
The 24-year-old doctor had traveled to the UAE to get married and was at the airport preparing to board a flight back to Chicago when a U.S. immigration officer, acting upon President Trump’s travel ban issued late Friday, seized his passport and boarding pass and ordered him to a secondary screening area, according to the lawsuit.
It alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials crossed out al Homssi’s visa with black pen and annotated it “Cancelled E.O. 59447v.8”.
In support of al Homssi’s return, doctors from Advocate Christ Hospital gathered Wednesday inside the courtroom of Judge Elaine E. Bucklo. In mid-afternoon Durkin told the judge he was nearing a settlement with government lawyers.
“We found out last night from our department chair. He would have lost his position as a resident if he did not return in less than 30 days,” said Dr. Osamah Abedallah, a colleague.
“We are thrilled that he will be back tomorrow. I’m sure his patients will be thrilled,” said Dr. Taylor Brinton, who works with al Homssi at Advocate Christ Hospital.
Al Homssi’s case had generated fear among members of the Islamic community, said Shoab Khadri, president of the Islamic Center of Naperville. “We are hearing from community and family members that they are afraid to travel fearing that they may not be allowed to re-enter,” said Khadri.