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Anxiety, but no problems reported at Logan Monday morning

A man introduced his wife, an Iranian national who was detained at customs for almost three hours, to the lawyer who helped him while he waited Sunday.
A man introduced his wife, an Iranian national who was detained at customs for almost three hours, to the lawyer who helped him while he waited Sunday. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Hayley Woldseth plans to marry the love of her life, an Iranian national, in Boston, and she had been counting on having her fiance’s mother there. But as the woman tried to fly into the country last week, she was turned back because of President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

That was before a series of federal court injunctions temporarily froze parts of the immigration ban, giving the frustrated family cautious hope that they’ll be able to reunite before the April ceremony. In a race with time, Woldseth and her fiancé booked a new flight to get his mother to Boston on Thursday before a US District Court judge decides whether to end or extend a seven-day restraining order on Trump’s ban.

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“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Woldseth, 30, who came to Logan International Airport Monday seeking legal advice from attorneys who had been there throughout the weekend. “We haven’t slept. It’s been awful.”

Woldseth’s dilemma played out amid continued uncertainty over the executive order, which bars refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days, bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, and prevents citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering for 90 days.

It took a year for her fiance’s mother to get a visa and they are less optimistic now about his father getting one. Woldseth, who declined to name her soon-to-be mother-in-law, said the woman was to arrive Jan. 27 at John F. Kennedy Airport, but by the time she got to Abu Dhabi, Trump’s order had taken effect.

She and 60 other Iranians bound for the states were sent back to Iran the next day.

“I recognize the need for safety but this is not the approach,” Woldseth said. “This is not American, this is not who we are. We are a nation of immigrants.”

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Other families at Logan said the situation had increased the anxiety they felt as their loved ones traveled. Faraz Khan waited anxiously for his wife at Logan. Her flight from Dubai had landed shortly after 7 a.m. and nearly two hours had passed.

When she finally emerged from the airport’s US Customs and Border Protection area, Khan walked over to Zeeshan Kaukab and hugged her. Khan was worried that his wife, a Muslim from India traveling on a visa, could be subject to extra security screenings or worse.

“Banning a country based on a religion is absurd,” said Khan, 29. “There are people coming here who have lived here for several years and all of a sudden they can’t come here.”

Khan, also a Muslim, has a work permit and is living in Boston. He said his employer had advised him not to leave the country. Although Khan and Kaukab are from India, where the ban does not apply, they are still worried.

Attorneys with the American Immigration Lawyers Association were at the airport asking passengers about the security process.

“We’re making sure these guys are doing what the state is telling them to do,” said Victor Maldonado, a supervisor with the association.

Some passengers were delayed in getting through security because several international flights arrived around the same time, passengers said. No one reported being subjected to extensive security checks.

But for Mike Hager, 36, of Detroit, a family trip to visit his dying mother in his native Iraq ended with his relatives stranded. Hager’s two brothers, sister-in-law, and their children were prohibited from boarding a flight from Iraq on Sunday, he said. Hager is a US citizen and his stranded relatives have green cards; all came to the states as refugees in 1995.

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“Everybody was crying,” said Hager, who was on his way back to Detroit via Boston. “Everybody was grabbing everybody and saying ‘What if we don’t see you guys anymore?’ ”

He vowed to fight for their return. “I’m not going to give up,” he said. “I’ve got to try to help my family.”


Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com.