A Clark Atlanta University student was detained at the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, signed late Friday.
Reham Noaman, 31, is a third-year doctoral student from Yemen studying education leadership at the historically black university.
She and her sister, a sophomore at Georgia State University, were attempting to return to Atlanta from their home in Saudi Arabia, where they reside, Noaman said in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday.
There is a civil war going on in Yemen that has displaced many citizens.
As Noaman and her sister, 23, were about to get boarding passes for their direct flight to Atlanta they were informed that they could not board. Other airlines also refused to issue them tickets citing Trump’s order, she said.
“This is preventing us from attending classes,” Noaman said. “This is a big distraction that could cause us to miss the whole semester and this is something that doesn’t make any sense.”
Noaman has a non-immigrant student visa, which permits her to study at Clark Atlanta, school officials said. She also receives a U.S. State Department scholarship that partially covers her education expenses.
As part of the visa program, she is vetted each semester by the U.S. Homeland Security’s SEVIS unit in order to renew her visa status, Clark Atlanta said.
“Both my sister and me have F1 visas. We are not refugees,” she said. “We pay our money and tuition to attend school in Atlanta. Once we graduate we will be gonig back to our country. We just came here for a better education and just want to finish our education and go back home.”
Noaman is one of several people with Georgia connections impacted by the the immigration order. Eleven people were detained at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by federal immigration authorities on Saturday.
Trump’s executive order suspends all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and bars those from war-torn Syria indefinitely. It also blocks entry to citizens from seven Muslim nations, including Noaman’s home country of Yemen.