Travel ban causes Syrian doctor who cared for wounded in civil war to move to Canada

A Syrian doctor has acceded to President Trump’s travel ban, moving to Canada rather than attempt to enter the U.S. in his attempts to finish his master’s degree.

Khaled Almilaji, who began studying for a master’s in public health at Brown University on a student visa, believes the travel ban has brought too much uncertainty to justify continuing his education in the U.S.

Almilaji has withdrawn from Brown but continues to consult his mentors at the Ivy League institution as he attempts to reopen a Syrian hospital for women and children. Earlier this month, he moved to Canada to finish his degree at the University of Toronto.

Khaled Almilaji at Brown University in 2016. (Photo: Steven Senne/AP)

The doctor has cared for countless rebels and refugees injured during the Syrian civil war. He was arrested and tortured by police in Damascus, and eventually became a leader in efforts to provide aid to those wounded in the war, sharing health information across Syrian hospitals. He recently received Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts.

A partial version of Trump’s travel ban is scheduled to go into effect Thursday night. Individuals from six Muslim-majority countries will be prohibited from entering the U.S. unless they can prove a “bona fide relationship” to America.

Almilaji knows he could have applied for a student visa and remained at Brown, since the Trump administration said that a student admitted to an American institution would fall under proof of a “bona fide relationship,” but he still believes there’s too much at risk.  

“Bad things happen and you have to adapt,” Almilaji told the Associated Press.  

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” that there’s “no clarity” in the travel ban and that he doesn’t believe the White House has enough competence to enforce it.

“There’s unfortunately so little competence in this administration that I don’t expect that they’re going to be able to implement their travel ban well,” Bennet said. 

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump has touted the ban as a measure that will protect the U.S. from terrorists, but Bennet called it a “terribly conceived plan,” noting, “It’s an absolute attack on American values, and I don’t think it’s going to keep us safer.”

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the executive order in the fall.

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