Public charge assessment separates family

December 11, 2018

Prior to coming to the United States, Dr. Ali* was a renowned cardiac surgeon in Syria, father of three young children, and the husband of a talented anesthesiologist.

As the violence escalated in Syria, Dr. Ali’s brother was tortured to death by Syrian intelligence officers, his father-in-law was killed by a barrel bomb, and his wife and children were forced to flee Beirut while Dr. Ali stayed behind to work to support the family.

In late 2013, Dr. Ali was the victim of a double-tap bomb, a bombing specifically designed to target medical personnel who rush to treat victims of an earlier bomb attack. More than 100 pieces of shrapnel lodged in Dr. Ali’s body and he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Although Dr. Ali is lucky to be alive, he has ongoing medical problems, including a communication disorder called aphasia, which precludes him from fully expressing himself verbally, even though his intelligence is intact and he knows what he wants to say.

Dr. Ali traveled to the United States with a valid visa to seek medical care, but he was detained due to concerns that he would become a public charge.

Through Catholic Charities’ Alternative to Detention program, Dr. Ali was released from detention. Catholic Charities represented Dr. Ali with his asylum case before the immigration court, and Dr. Ali was granted asylum by the immigration judge.

After being separated from his family for more than two years, Catholic Charities also assisted Dr. Ali in bringing his wife and three young children to the United States last fall.

[*Name changed to protect privacy.]

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