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Keeping Doctors Trapped in the US Is Bad for Everyone

Altruistic doctors, even those who are American citizens, are afraid to leave the country for fear they won’t be allowed back in.

Alexandra Ossola

Heval Mohamed Kelli came to the United States two weeks after 9/11. He, along with his parents and brother, had been living in Germany for six years after fleeing Syria in 1996, where his father had been jailed for months on end. The family settled in the suburbs of Atlanta; Kelli, who was 17 at the time, supported his family by washing dishes. He dreamed of going to college but knew that his options were limited.

Then he got a scholarship to a prestigious private high school, and a mentor to motivate him. Today, Kelli is a cardiologist at Emory University. He spends his free time volunteering in Atlanta—he works at a free clinic; he runs after-school programs for high school students, many of them refugees. He works just a block away from the restaurant where he used to wash dishes.

Kelli would like to devote some of his volunteer efforts abroad. But due to President Trump's "Muslim ban," the recent executive order that prohibits entry to the US from seven majority-Muslim nations, leaving the country now feels too risky, even though he became an American citizen in 2006.

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