KC doctor and political asylee from Iraq speaks out about immigration ban

Posted at 5:37 AM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 12:22:52-05

Dr. Nabil Al-Khalisi confronted danger numerous times growing up in Baghdad as an outspoken atheist. He first came to the United States at the invitation of the State Department as a Fulbright Scholar, and requested political asylum from Iraq after.

Working in the medical field in Iraq, Al-Khalisi saw numerous horrors.

“I know the ultimate evil we are dealing with in the Middle East. I know the religious radicalism that is turning people into monsters. Beheading people and abusing women and enslaving children. I know all of it and I’ve seen it personally,” he said.

Al-Khalisi says he had to start his career over when coming to the United States because his prior work history and training was not recognized in America, but he wanted to do the work. He scored in the top 10 percent for his medical board examines, eventually becoming a doctor in Kansas City under contract with the University of Missouri System. He is training with Diagnostic Radiology, specializing in breast imaging to target breast cancer. He also serves at the Kansas City VA.

“The United States is my home. The United States is a place where I live in dignity,” Al-Khalisi said.

But under the new executive orders on immigration signed by President Trump, Al-Khalisi is at danger of being denied reentry into the U.S. if he travels outside of the country. Al-Khalisi is a permanent resident with a green card.

“Imagine if I was away [when the orders were signed]. I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, feed my pet. I will lose my work, I will forfeit years of medical training I will forfeit my license if I stay away,” said Al-Khalisi. “I’m not against implementing a tougher system, we need the best system. This is my home and I want to keep it safe.”

Al-Khalisi believes Trump’s executive order in the name of national security is “insane.”

“I’m a double victim now,” said Al-Khalisi. “Trump is doing exactly what he is condemning. I used to live in the Middle East as a second class citizen. I didn’t sense that I belonged to this place because people treated me differently. He’s doing exactly what they did to us.”

In Al-Khalisi’s eyes, the policy also emboldens the very people President Trump is trying to keep out of America.

“This will only validate ISIS claims. This will only give them more recruits. This will only show the world that the kindness and humanity that the west holds true to its heart, the flagship of US freedom, the stronghold of US rights that we hold dear to our hearts in the United States… it’s just all on paper, it’s not there in the real world.”

He says the new American policy is shattering good, hard working refugees who have and are trying to flee unfathomable and inhumane circumstances.

“[Trump is] complaining that ISIS is the ultimate villain but he’s doing what they’re doing. He’s making us second class citizens. What do you want me to do? I did my part, I worked hard, I paid my taxes, I worked with the system. I’m part of the system. What else do you want me to do? Why punish me this way? I didn’t do anything wrong,” Al-Khalisi said.

“[The executive order is] totally ignorant to our lives. Our lives is on the stake here. It’s not a matter of who wins or Democrats’ vs Republicans, we have families, we have careers, we have hopes, we shed tears. This is hard work and sweat. This is America the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is insane. We are staining the American flag with shame if we do this. We are basically betraying every single value that America stands for that I don’t want to see happen. This is not the America that I wanted to be part of.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran sent 41 Action News the following statement on Trump's recent executive order on immigration: 

"Keeping Americans safe should be our federal government's top priority. Strengthening our immigration system is critical to that end, and it’s common sense to have appropriate vetting procedures in place for individuals wishing to travel to our country. While I support thorough vetting, I do not support restricting the rights of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Furthermore, far-reaching national security policy should always be devised in consultation with Congress and relevant government agencies."

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts sent 41 Action News the following statement on the executive order: 

"I agree with President Trump that we need a major overhaul of our immigration system and a better vetting process for those entering our nation. One attack on our shores like those in Paris and Brussels is one too many. We have also seen too many crimes committed by illegal immigrants that should never have been in our country in the first place. However, we need to strike a balance that protects the rights of Americans and those permitted to enter the country legally. The president needs to work with Congress to ensure every aspect of a major policy change such as this is taken into consideration."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story identified Dr. Nabil Al-Khalisi as a refugee. He is an asylee. 



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