U.S. citizen and Kansas City resident John Gak said he has canceled his trip to South Sudan over concerns about President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel.
Gak came to the United States as a refugee from Sudan in 1995 and has been a U.S. citizen since 2001. A Christian, Gak said Wednesday that he canceled his trip to do mission work after speaking with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s office.
“They told me, ‘Don’t go, you could be detained at the airport when you came back.’ ” Gak said.
A statement from Cleaver’s office said he would not discuss an individual’s situation but added that those considering travel should remain cautious.
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“We are telling our constituents to avoid travel to and from these places until the constitutionality of this ban has been investigated,” the statement said.
Nations listed in the ban are Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Somalia.
Trump had issued the order over the weekend banning anyone from Sudan and six other nations from entering the United States for 90 days. The president has said the measure was to protect the United States by stopping potential terrorists from entering the country.
Gak was born in the southern part of Sudan 50 years ago. His homeland broke off as a separate nation in 2011 called South Sudan. His U.S. passport shows he is a native of South Sudan.
Trump’s order does not list South Sudan.
Gak’s trip, set for late this month, was to work with a nonprofit group he had formed and to help with a church and school he helped build there. He hopes to be able to reschedule the trip for this summer.
He also may send money to a coordinator in South Sudan, but he wouldn’t be able to personally further his mission work there.
“It’s terrible,” Gak said Wednesday. “If not (later this year), then maybe next year.”
One bit of good news: Gak said he was able to get a refund on his airfare even though his ticket was nonrefundable.