Yemeni Girl With Cerebral Palsy Mentioned In SCOTUS Travel Ban Arguments Enters US

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A 10-year-old Yemeni girl with cerebral palsy, who was featured prominently in the U.S. Supreme Court’s April travel ban arguments, was admitted into the United States Saturday, after consular officials initially denied her entry under President Donald Trump’s travel sanctions.

The girl, Shaema Alomari, was mentioned at the high court in connection with the administration’s waiver policy, which allows nationals of certain sanctioned countries to enter the United States if they qualify for certain exemptions.

The Alomaris came to the U.S. in hopes of procuring medical treatment for Shaema, who cannot walk or talk, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Shaema’s father, Nageeb Alomari, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. The family arrived Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Justice Stephen Breyer first broached Alomari’s story in a series of questions pertaining to the scope of exceptions to the travel ban. One amicus (or “friend-of-the-court”) brief, in which Alomari’s situation is detailed at length, indicated the administration was not faithfully issuing waivers to scholars, entrepreneurs and medical patients, whom Trump’s order excuses from sanction. Failure to properly administer the exception’s regime, Breyer suggested, would reveal the government’s true intent in enacting the ban. (RELATED: Ginsburg And Gorsuch Are Trolling Each Other In An Epic Way)

Neal Katyal, the lead attorney for a coalition of blue states and civil rights groups challenging the ban, highlighted Alomari’s case specifically in reply, arguing government officials have failed in their waiver duties.

“This waiver process has excluded … a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy, who wants to come to the United States to save her life, and she can’t move or talk,” Katyal said. “The 10-year-old was denied a waiver, Justice Breyer.”

Breyer’s concerns were echoed by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

It’s not clear The Alomaris were granted entry as a result of the arguments. An American consular official notified the family they would receive a waiver the day before the April hearing but provided no explanation for their initial denial.

Varying degrees of travel sanctions are currently assessed against Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. A decision in the travel ban case is expected in June.

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