President Donald Trump's Muslim ban was issued a harsh setback this weekend, after an appeals court refused to reinstate key portions of the travel restrictions that had been suspended by a federal judge on Friday.
Since the temporary freeze on the ban, people who were denied entry into the United States have begun making their way back into the country. At arrival gates and baggage claims around America, visa holders and refugee families are being met with cheering crowds, rather than armed border patrol agents.
At Nashville's International Airport on Sunday, a crowd of hundreds chanted "welcome home" to Fuad Suleman, Arazoo Ibrahim and their three children, who landed in Tennessee a week after having been sent back to their native Iraq during their first attempt to enter the United States.
At JFK airport, Abdullah Alghazali, and his 13-year-old son, Ali were reunited after years apart. Abdullah had come to the U.S. six years ago, and although Ali's mother had been able to enter the U.S. this fall, Ali had stayed in Cairo with cousins while his visa was being processed—a wait that became even longer when Trump's ban went into effect last week.
On Sunday, Portland, OR police chief Mike Marshman joined hundreds in welcoming an Iraqi family of five, whose refugee visas had prevented them from originally entering the country on January 27—the day Trump signed his executive order.
In an interview livestreamed that night, Matt Dos Santos, legal director at the ACLU of Oregon, explained that the family had been working with the Catholic Charities of Oregon, "for a couple years."
"They go through an extensive process, applying to become a refugee," Dos Santos said. "Then they go through security clearances before being placed in different cities."
Ghassan and Sarmad Assali, of Allentown, PA, earned a small bit of notoriety in the early days of Trump's ban, after admitting that they'd voted for Trump, only to have their relatives deported after landing in Philadelphia last week.
Two security guards were waiting for them," Assali told NBC Nightly News. "They took them. They said, 'Are you Syrians?' They said, 'Yes.' They said, 'Come with us.'"
On Monday morning, however, six of Assali's relatives returned to the U.S., and were met by their family, who wiped away tears as they walked together down the airport hallway.
As these, and similar scenes, play out across the country, they represent more than just heartwarming images of families reunited, and immigrants welcomed to their new home. They show us the all-too-human cost of Trump's executive order—and offer a chilling reminder of just what's at stake should the ban be reinstated.