Sarkawt Shams left Iraq for the US on a special immigrant visa in 2013 when he felt the risk to his life was too great.
During his four years working for the US consulate in Baghdad and Erbil, Mr Shams would go to great lengths on his commute to avoid detection.
His parents had finalised their visas to join him in Washington and were weeks away from taking their flights. His wife of two years was preparing for her final visa interview in March.
"She was crying all night," Mr Shams says, describing his wife's reaction to Donald Trump's temporary ban on US entry for seven Muslim-majority nations. "I cannot leave and she cannot join me . . . all we can do is dream."
The ban has affected hundreds of Iraqis who worked for the US government and intelligence services. "The risks for these people are really high. They will be targeted," says Mr Shams, an Iraqi Kurd. "This really is a matter of life or death."
Mr Shams has been told that travelling to Iraq will invalidate his permanent residence status, but "I'm not going to leave my wife or my family behind", he says. "Even if I have to risk my life, I have to go back."