Impact of US refugee ban on loved ones


Washington - President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from certain countries has brought stress, desperation, worry and confusion to a number of families in the United States and abroad.

Trump's order temporarily halted the entire US refugee programme and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. Many refugees in the US had expected to re-unite with relatives any day, but now their plans are on hold.

5-year-old far from mom and dad

Nagi Algahaim, a US citizen who runs a gas station in Detroit, said he's effectively stuck in Malaysia with his wife, a native of Yemen. Their 5-year-old daughter is at home with relatives in Detroit but the mother can't travel there.

Algahaim, 33, said he and Kokab Algazali, 28, have been in Malaysia since December, seeking immigration documents to qualify her for a green card in the United States.

Algahaim said Malaysia Airlines told them that while he can fly to the US, his wife cannot.

But he's not leaving Kuala Lumpur without her. "She's been crying every day. It's heartbreaking," he said.

Their daughter, who has health problems, hasn't seen her mother since she was 8-months-old.

"As an American, I'm disgusted," Algahaim said. "I thought Trump was going to bring up America, not twist it around with fear and racism."

Everything was set

Everything was set for the Syrian refugees to fly to the US.

A "processing error" that for months kept Baraa Haj Khalaf, her husband and baby daughter from joining her parents and two siblings in the US had at last been taken care of. They were told to be at the Istanbul airport on Monday for their flight to the US and a new life near Chicago.

So confident were they that they were on their way to America after fleeing Aleppo, Syria in 2013, Baraa and her husband sold or gave away practically all of their belongings.

In suburban Chicago, her 46-year-old father, Khaled Haj Khalaf, could hardly contain his excitement. "We were very happy," he said through an interpreter. "This is the land of freedom, the land of democracy."

Even some Chicago mothers had volunteered to collect furniture, food, clothing and toys for the baby at their future apartment. Then came President Donald Trump's executive order.

Now all the refugees' plans and hopes are "in limbo," said Melineh Kano, executive director of a group called RefugeeOne, which is providing support for the volunteers.

A family separated

Abdalla Munye and his wife resettled in Georgia weeks ago but their 20-year-old daughter wasn't able to join them. Her flight was scheduled to arrive this week. Now her trip is on hold.

Munye said his family stayed in refugee camps after fleeing the violence of Somalia and his wife, Habiba Mohamed, said she watched her 11-year-old daughter be raped and killed.

They are concerned about their older daughter, Batula, who remains in a refugee camp in Kenya.

"Now that we are here and we have left her behind, we are in a lot of distress and worry," Munye, 44, said through a translator. "The only thing I can request from the American government is to help me be re-united with my daughter."

The couple held out hope that first lady Melania Trump, herself an immigrant from Slovenia, might be able to persuade the president to reverse course.

"She's a parent and she knows the love that a parent has for their child and I would like her to do her best to convince the president to change his mind," Munye said.

A daughter who has never met her father

Somali refugee Nimo Hashi bought couches and a new kitchen table for her Salt Lake City apartment in anticipation of re-uniting with her husband on Friday for the first time in nearly three years.

Hashi said she last saw him when she was two months pregnant with their daughter, Taslim. Her husband has never seen his daughter. After Trump's order, it's not clear when the father and daughter will meet.

The couple met in Ethiopia after both fled Somalia amid the civil war. Her refugee case had already been approved, so officials told her to go ahead to the US where she could apply for her husband to join her.

"I was so happy and joyous but that dream is shattered," Hashi said through a translator. "This is not right just singling out people from Muslim countries, being singled out based on religion."

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