April 2017

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109 K areem Allaf was born in Iowa and has an American passport. Yet the first question he asked his father about the international travel ban was, "Am I going to get deported?" Travel to the United States for anyone from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia has been up in the air since President Donald Trump signed an executive order regarding a travel ban on Jan. 27, 2017. Iraq has since been removed from the list. Allaf, a redshirt freshman on the University of Iowa men's tennis team, was born in Iowa to Syrian parents. e family moved to Dubai when he was 2-years-old, and he lived there until moving back to Iowa for college. "It was a beautiful place before war erupted," Allaf said. He has only traveled to Syria a few times, the last was in 2010 before the war, but his last name is Allaf and he was afraid that would raise red flags to the American government. Allaf still has family in Syria, living every day in wonder of what will happen next. "In Damascus, the power cuts out and water doesn't run. ey're still struggling. Some of them have moved, but there are still a couple [family members] there because they can't afford to leave," Allaf said. One of his relatives was shot and killed during a cease fire. According to CNN, as of Dec. 2016, 4.8 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.3 million people are displaced internally. e travel ban and the war in Syria are issues for a number of tennis players around the globe. Allaf plays in the Davis Cup tennis tournament for Syria. A teammate of his was accepted at Rice University in Houston, but could not obtain a student visa to enter the United States because he is Syrian. Some of his friends who are currently in the United States attending school fear going home because they may not be allowed to return. "Some of them actually have problems right now," Allaf said. "I have a couple friends who are in the United States for college right now. ey've had visa problems and might not be able to come back if they leave, so they're probably going to stay in the United States until they graduate." None of the athletes on Iowa's tennis team have passports from countries listed on the ban, but recruiting from those countries could become an issue in the future. Currently, Americans are allowed to travel to and from all countries in the European Union without visas. In March, the European Parliament began to discuss changing the rule to require visas for all Americans traveling to any EU country. "e ban is still new, so it isn't something we've had any difficulty with yet, but it could cause issues in the future, not only with having recruits come here, but also traveling to them, even in Europe," Iowa head coach Ross Wilson said. For Allaf, traveling hasn't been an issue, but the future is uncertain for him and others with ties to Syria. "I was fortunate to be born in the United States and have an American passport, but others are facing so much uncertainty and fear," Allaf said. "ey're worried about that and scared that they'll get deported."

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