Uber, facing a backlash in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order, helps a driver reunite with his wife and son. But another child, left behind in Kenya, might be impacted by the travel ban.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had not yet issued its ruling that continues to block President Trump’s travel ban, but a party was already under way at Somali Community Services.
Over a lunch of spicy rice, chicken and salmon, about 20 Somalis on Thursday afternoon welcomed Nasteho Aden and her 4-month-old son to the U.S. Like many of their countrymen, the president’s order had left them stuck at an airport — in their case, in Nairobi. They were due to travel here to join Aden’s husband, Elias Abdi, an Uber driver and naturalized American citizen who lives in West Seattle, when the order came down.
Seattle federal Judge James Robart’s stay of the travel ban made it possible for Abdi to reunite with his wife and son this past weekend; he flew to New York to meet them after the first leg of their journey.
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But the ultimate fate of Trump’s executive order — which many expect to be determined by the Supreme Court — still looms large for the family. Aden and Abdi have a 2-year-old son who remains in Kenya with his grandmother.
Confusion over documentation prevented the boy from traveling with his mother and brother. The toddler was born in Uganda, where Abdi had visited, met and married his wife. He was not yet an American citizen.
He applied for his wife and child to join him, a process that dragged on for years. His wife finally got authorization for a green card, and a second son, born after Abdi naturalized, an American passport. But no one seemed sure about the proper paperwork for his oldest child, both Abdi and an attorney helping him said Thursday.
“I am so happy,” Abdi said, with Aden and baby Mohamed by his side. And yet, he and Aden both said that leaving one child behind had been agonizing.
After fearing that all his family members would be blocked, he got news of Robart’s ruling from an Uber lawyer.
The company faced a backlash over a perception that it failed to honor a taxi boycott in New York protesting the travel ban and CEO Travis Kalanick’s participation in a Trump advisory council. Uber said it had not meant to “break the strike,” and Kalanick later backed out of the council. Yet, Uber also quickly offered free legal advice to its many immigrant drivers impacted by the travel ban.
For three evenings this past week, Uber had an attorney available for consultation at its Tukwila center for drivers and at other such facilities around the country, according to a company spokesperson. Abdi came to the Tukwila center for help and was soon connected with San Francisco attorneys.
On the night of Robart’s ruling, Abdi turned off his phone and went to sleep. When he woke up, he said, he found a series of missed calls and emails from one of the lawyers.
“All night, she called,” he said.
After the two connected, she and her colleagues moved fast to get Aden here. They had to. Her visa was to expire in little more than a day.
“One of the reasons we are here today is to ask other companies to follow suit,” said Abdul Yusuf, manager of Eastside for Hire taxi company, at the Somali Community Services celebration. He said he would like to see Boeing, Amazon and others donate legal advice or other support to those affected by the ban.