But one thing pulled Sinha back to the United Arab Emirates — her mother, who had suffered multiple strokes that left her paralyzed. Because Sinha is in the United States on a work permit, she had to request special permission from U.S. immigration authorities to leave the country and return. After waiting six months for that permission, she finally boarded a plane Friday.
Now she may be stuck in Dubai, stranded by President Trump’s executive order banning U.S. entry for migrants, refugees and others from seven Middle Eastern countries. He signed it while Sinha was in the air.
The order does not apply to citizens of the United Arab Emirates, where Sinha was born and raised. But that country assigns citizenship based on heritage, not place of birth, she said. That means she holds an Iraqi passport, and Iraq is one of the seven countries affected by the ban. She fears it could leave her subject to deportation to a country where she is a complete stranger.
In Texas, her husband is frantically trying to get his wife back but is unsure of what to do. Neil Sinha said she’s scheduled to return on a Qatar Airlines flight next week, but the airline already has told her that she will not be permitted to board, given Trump’s action.
“We talked on the phone, and we cried a little bit together, because when we’re together, we don’t feel so different,” she said. “Now, for the first time, I feel so different. … He can go anywhere and I cannot.”
Neil Sinha said he is stunned that the government can grant permission for someone to leave and re-enter the country, only to revoke that permission the moment the person leaves.
“You just kind of trust that, especially as an American who was born and raised here,” he said.
The couple is suddenly contemplating a future outside of the United States, perhaps in Canada. “All I want her to do is come back to me,” he said.