Yemeni Girl, 12, Arrives in US, Reunites With Her Family | NBC Southern California
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Yemeni Girl, 12, Arrives in US, Reunites With Her Family

Eman Ali and her father were able to board a plane in Africa after a federal judge issued an injunction on President Trump's travel ban

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    A 12-year-old Yemeni girl was reunited with her family Sunday afternoon at San Francisco International Airport after being stranded for the past week in the eastern African country of Djibouti due to President Donald Trump's travel ban. Thom Jensen reports. (Published Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017)

    A 12-year-old Yemeni girl was reunited with her family Sunday afternoon at San Francisco International Airport after being stranded for the past week in the eastern African country of Djibouti due to President Donald Trump's travel ban.

    Eman Ali was greeted by several family members at SFO's international terminal, where she hugged her 14-year-old sister Sarah and other relatives, cried tears of joy and smiled almost incessantly. She saw her mother for the first time in four years and was able to hug her 2-year-old sister for the first time in her life.

    Eman then was escorted through the terminal by family members and attorney Katy Lewis, surrounded by a throng of media and curious onlookers.

    "It's been a long, long journey for them, so you can understand that they're exhausted," Lewis said during a news conference at the airport.

    Eman's father, Ahmed Ali, also spoke briefly, thanking all those who supported his daughter's arrival in America.

    "Well, I'm really happy because finally we are finished with that process," he said. "I really appreciate everyone's support. A lot of people have been helping me and they don't even know us.

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    "After seven years, she's finally home. That's the best we need," he added.

    Eman, whose parents are American citizens and live in Los Banos, initially was due to arrive in San Francisco on Jan. 28, but she and her father were not allowed on their flight from Djibouti because of Trump's executive order banning people from Yemen and six other nations from traveling to the U.S.

    On Friday, Seattle-based U.S. District Judge James Robart put a temporary restraining order on Trump's ban, which allowed Eman and Ahmed Ali to board a flight to SFO, according to Lewis.

    On Sunday, the father and daughter were on American soil, and Eman became a citizen when her passport was stamped at SFO, Lewis said. Eman was born in Yemen and has been trying to move to the U.S. for six years, the attorney said.

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    "Her mother was a citizen at birth, but she lived in Yemen most of her life until recently," Lewis said. "And her father naturalized in 2010."

    One of the lawyers who helped get Eman home said the girl is one of the few Yemenis who were able to get out of the Djibouti airport.

    "There are about 240 people still trapped, who can't board airplanes," attorney Stacey Gartland told NBC Bay Area. "Eman was able to only because of some heroic efforts."

    Gartland credited her colleague Lewis for those heroics.

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    The Trump administration has appealed the temporary restraining order and submitted a request to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to immediately stay Robart's order. But the court denied the stay request early Sunday, and the appeal process will continue Monday, with the earliest ruling coming after 3 p.m. Pacific time.

    Lewis said Eman and Ahmed were thankful and tired and anxious to get home to Los Banos.