Cleveland Clinic doctor back in U.S. after being forced to leave country following immigration order

Posted at 1:22 PM, Feb 07, 2017

A Cleveland Clinic doctor who wasforced to leave the United States last week due to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump that restricted entry for visitors from seven majority Muslim countries is back in Northeast Ohio. 

Suha Abushamma, a Sudanese doctor with a valid H-1B foreign-worker visa, returned this week.

The 26-year-old is currently working as an intern in a three-year Internal Medicine residency program at the clinic.

“First let me say how happy I am to be back in Cleveland with my friends, my fiancée and all the people I consider part of my family” said Dr. Abushamma.

In her first public appearance since returning to the United States, Dr. Abushamma expressed appreciation to the team who worked tirelessly to bring her home.

“Today, I am feeling much gratitude and looking forward to getting back to work and putting patients first” said Dr. Abushamma.

On Jan. 28, Abushamma was coming back from visiting family in Saudi Arabia when she was detained by customs agents at JFK airport and told she would not be allowed to continue on to Cleveland. 

She was then escorted onto a plane headed back to Saudi Arabia.

But minutes before that plane took off, a federal judge blocked part of the immigration order, ruling that no one with a valid visa should be deported. Still, she was. 

After her deportation, Abushamma sued the president, saying she was misled and coerced by Customs and Border Patrol agents who forced her to sign a form effectively canceling her visa. 

Abushamma's lawyers said Tuesday they are going to file a notice of dismissal, now that she is back in the country. 

“7:30 p.m. ‘tell them there is a hearing going on. Tell them a judge is going to hear this case.’ ‘I will, I did. They want me on the plane’” David Leopold said as he recalled a conversation he had with Abushamma.

Immigration attorney David Leopold was one of the first attorneys the Cleveland clinic brought on board. He says Abushamma’s case was unprecedented.

“An executive order barred people wholesale, wholesale from the country for no reason” said Leopold. But their break finally came, Friday, when a federal judge in Seattle put a temporary halt on the ban.

“What we saw in the last 72 hours was a window and we grabbed it” said Leopold.

Leopold says Abushamma’s status is now secured, but the fight continues. “When you are fighting for justice there are not enough hours in the day.’

News 5 also asked the Cleveland Clinic about its upcoming fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort. Hundreds of doctors and nurses signed a letter asking the hospital to move the February 25th event.

A spokeswoman with the clinic says it is too late to move this year's event, but because of the backlash, they will not hold future events there.