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Immigration nightmare: Teen finally reunited with family after father sues US government

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A teenage girl was finally reunited with her family in New Jersey after an immigration nightmare.

Bloomfield resident Mohammed Hafar is an American citizen and applied for his wife and two children to join him in the United States from Syria. The approvals for his children were delayed after President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect. The ban barred citizens from Syria and other countries to travel to the U.S.

Hafar’s son eventually was cleared to come to New Jersey. But Hafar’s teenager daughter Jana had her application put on hold, forcing her to stay behind in war-torn Damascus. Jana says that she didn’t understand why she was not allowed to join her family.

“Did I [do] something wrong? Because I did nothing wrong at all … Why did [they] do this to me?” she asks.

The embassy did not give an explanation. But Hafar says that he told his daughter that he would fight for her.

“I told her … I will do whatever is necessary to bring you over,” he says.

It wasn’t until Hafar sued the government that Jana’s waiver was approved. The State Department says that it made changes to its waiver system to help applicants have their visas issued sooner.

But Hafar’s attorney argues that the government’s pace has slowed significantly in recent months. He says that it will take years to clear the backlog.

“There was a spike up where they were issuing more visas. They are not issuing more visas now,” says immigration attorney Curtis Morrison.

With the travel ban saga behind them, Hafar says that he is eager to have his whole family settle in Bloomfield. Jana is expected to start school in the new year.

“Here I have a beautiful, beautiful future in the world,” she says.

Between December 2017 and October 2019, the government has received more than 28,000 visa applications. Of those, only 11,000 have been approved – less than half.

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