Iranian baby to be allowed in U.S. for life-saving surgery

Oregon lawmakers had sought waiver to order

NEW YORK (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says an Iranian infant banned from entering the United States for life-saving heart surgery under President Donald Trump's order will now be allowed to travel to New York for the emergency procedure.

Cuomo said Friday that Manhattan's Mount Sinai Medical Center will perform the surgery at no cost.

The baby girl's family tried to enter the country last weekend with a tourist visa through Portland, Oregon. But they were abruptly turned back as natives of one of seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted under the president's executive order.

Private funds will cover travel costs for the infant and her family, as well as their New York stay.

Cuomo worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project to secure a waiver of Trump's order.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., one of the lawmakers who sought to help resolve the matter, issued this statement:

"I am pleased this case appears headed toward a successful resolution with an innocent 4-month-old girl getting the life-saving treatment she needs in this country. This case has spotlighted the moral bankruptcy of the president's action to impose a thinly disguised religious test on people coming to our country.

"Banning a 4-month-old child from a pediatric heart surgeon does nothing to safeguard our nation. Such cruelty runs counter to core American values. And it slams shut America’s centuries-old legacy as a place of shelter for people of all ages."

Earlier Friday, Sens. Wyden, Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader sent an urgent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking him to issue a waiver from the ban on travel from predominately Muslim countries to allow the girl to undergo life-saving heart surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University.

“Fatemeh’s life is in peril and, if she does not soon have corrective surgeries, she will die,” they wrote.

Fatemeh’s uncle lives in Portland, along with her grandparents. All three of them are U.S. citizens and helped the infant’s parents apply for tourist visas. The parents were on their way to Dubai for a scheduled interview at the U.S. Embassy there when, due to Trump’s recent Executive Order banning travel from Iran, the family’s interview was canceled.

“Whether Fatemeh and her family are allowed access to this urgent and necessary medical care in the United States will determine whether she lives or dies,” the Oregon lawmakers wrote. “Granting her family’s request to travel to the U.S. is not only the moral and humanitarian decision, but would signal to Iran and the rest of the world that, even in the face of highly strained diplomatic relations, the United States offers help to those suffering tragic circumstances.”

The Oregon lawmakers believe the family meets the criteria for a waiver, as described in the recent executive order suspending these visas.

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