The Corner

National Security & Defense

Man Who Blamed Mother’s Death on Trump’s Travel Ban Fabricated the Story

President Donald Trump signed his travel-ban executive order on January 27, and subsequently, 348 people were denied boarding while attempting to travel to the U.S. from the seven banned Muslim-majority countries. Of the 348 people, the press headlined unrelentingly one devastating story: Iraqi-born Mike Hager and his sick mother, Naimma, were supposedly traveling from Iraq to their residences in Michigan when his mother, who has a green card and has lived in the U.S. since 1995, died after airport authorities refused to let her board the plane. “If they would have let us in, my mom — she would have made it and she would have been sitting right here next to me,” Hager told Fox 2 Detroit. “She’s gone because of [President Trump].”

But Fox 2 Detroit has now confirmed that Hager fabricated the entire incident. Airport security never denied his mother permission to travel back to the U.S.; in fact, she died five days before Trump had even signed the executive order.

Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, leader of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, Mich., told Fox 2 Detroit that Hager’s report was false. “The 22nd of January, his mom died,” he confirmed. Hager’s mother passed away from kidney disease.

Trump’s executive order imposed three bans: a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the U.S., an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and a 90-day ban on anyone entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen). The travel ban had originally included green-card holders; this across-the-board policy allowed Hager’s fabricated story to be a prime example of the ban’s unintended consequences. After a public outcry, Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly issued a waiver exempting those entitled to permanent residence in the U.S.

As attorneys and politicians begin to debate the merits and legality of the temporary ban affecting 90,000 people, one thing is certain: Lying won’t help anything.

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.