Politics

Reunions on hold as families face Trump refugee order

From married couples to mothers and daughters, President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from certain countries has created profound uncertainty for families in America and abroad. Many refugees in the U.S. had expected to reunite with their relatives any day, but will now have to wait.

Trump's order temporarily halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days.

A MOTHER AND HER YOUNG DAUGHTER

Somali refugee Samira Dahir was supposed to see her youngest daughter on Tuesday. Instead, she is left wondering when she will get to hold her again.

Dahir, who lives in Minneapolis, became pregnant after she was granted refugee status and faced a gut-wrenching decision in 2013: Put her own resettlement on hold for several more years and re-apply with her daughter, or leave her little girl behind and try to bring her to the U.S. later.

She left her baby with a friend in Uganda, and has been trying to get her to America ever since. Trump's executive order puts Dahir's future with her daughter in doubt.

"She's not coming ... I feel sad," she said as she began crying. "I don't have any power."

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the relationship between a "principal refugee" and a child must have existed before the refugee was admitted to the U.S. or granted asylum. It notes specifically that a child must have been born or conceived before a refugee is allowed entry or granted asylum.

"I want my daughter to come to me," said Dahir, 32. "My feeling, it is so bad. So I say, 'President. Please, please, please, please.'"

STRESSED OUT

Iraqi refugee Rana Elshekly expected to see her husband soon but his resettlement was put on hold. Now he is in limbo in Turkey.

"Every time we talk it sounds like we are arguing because we don't know what to do," Elshekly said through an interpreter. "He's even trying to get me to come back to Turkey so we can at least all be together."

Elshekly, 36, resettled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October with her two young boys, 9-year-old Dair and 3-year-old Laith.

Her husband, Hikmat Ahmed, 42, stayed behind after officials suggested that she and the children come alone to the United State to get out of the region faster.

When she thinks about returning to the war-torn region, she remembers her 20-year-old pregnant sister who was recently killed in a bombing at a market in Iraq.

"I start thinking of my boys, and I have to stay because of them," she said.

NO ONE SHOWED UP FOR DINNER

The Somali community in Providence, Rhode Island, prepared traditional home-cooked meals, including the crepe-like bread known as canjeero, and furnished an apartment for three brothers who were supposed to arrive Monday night. They never made it.

The eldest brother fled his war-torn homeland in the 1990s and had been waiting to be resettled since 2000, when he registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency, said Baha Sadr of refugee resettlement group Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island.

"For the past 16 years, most of his life, he was just waiting to get approval," Sadr said. "If anybody's in waiting for 16 years, how much more extreme vetting can they get?"

'OUR WHOLE LIVES UP IN THE AIR'

Born in Maryland, Dr. Omid Moghimi (Oh' MEED Mo GHEE'mee) grew up in his father's native Iran and came back to the United States to study medicine. The internist at New Hampshire's Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center fell in love with a childhood friend in Iran and married her in Tehran in 2015. After months of paperwork to bring her to the U.S., she was all set for the last big step this week: her visa interview.

That was abruptly canceled after Trump's executive order, which he fears could become permanent.

"That's kind of thrown our whole lives up in the air," Moghimi, 28, said Tuesday. "What that translates to in our lives, is that I, a U.S. citizen, will basically not have an option of living in this country anymore, because I will be forced to move somewhere else to live with my wife. I'm in my first year of residency right now; it's a three-year program."

He hasn't seen his wife, Dorsa Razi, since May. She's interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education and volunteers at day care centers and at an orphanage.

"There's no evidence that she is in any way even a minuscule threat, security risk, and there are many, many cases like her out there," Moghimi said.


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