Memphis immigrants disturbed by executive order

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Standing in his Midtown mosque, Dr. Nabil Bayakly is thoughtful and defiant as he remembers when he immigrated to the U.S.

He said the process was long and thorough.

“I know when I came to the U.S. in the 70s I had to go to the embassy at least 13 times with different papers every time asking me things,” the imam said.

He said the refugee process takes even longer, and in Memphis alone more than 20 families have resettled from war-torn Syria.

“The last group maybe came two months ago,” he said.

Now he said those families were worried since they still had other family members still trying to get out of the country.

For others, like clients of immigration attorney Elissa Taub, the problem for legal immigrants is also getting back.

"I have a client born in Iraq. He's a Canadian citizen and a physician in a rural area," Taub said.

She said her client was in Canada when President Trump signed the order.

His family panicked when they realized they did not know if he’d make it back.

"He was still questioned pretty closely when he entered but he did enter the U.S. last night and he’s back at work actually this morning. We were relieved to hear about that. It was a pretty stressful weekend," the lawyer said.

She said it was a lesson they’re trying to convey to clients across the country.

“We’ve been trying to do our best to reach out to everybody to let them know don’t go anywhere," she said.

She also said the order was confusing since it didn't explain if it applies to people who have citizenship in the seven restricted countries or even those who were just born in those countries.

Taub said she heard about an Israeli grandmother, who was born in Iran, not being able to get to the U.S. to see her granddaughter's birth.

Memphis civil rights groups including Black Lives Matter, Muslims in Memphis and Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz are having a protest march against the executive order on Wednesday at 5 p.m. starting at the Clayborn Temple and ending at the National Civil Rights Museum.

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