(Abdulrahim holds a photo of his family, including his grandmother, in the Kenyan refugee camp)
Abdulrahim arrived to Kentucky in November 2015. Originally from Sudan, he lived in Kenya as a refugee for several years before being approved for refugee status. Abdulrahim traveled to the U.S. with his wife and two young daughters, now 4 and 2. The family fled the Darfur region of Sudan in 2005 to escape genocide. The family was targeted because of their ethnicity, and their village was eventually attacked by the Janjaweed militia. “I fled to a neighboring country, Kenya, or else I would have been killed. Then I was given a chance to go to the U.S.”, he explained.
Abdulrahim is thankful to have been given an opportunity to come to the U.S. through the refugee program. Since resettling through Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (CCMRS), Abdulrahim is now working at a job that he enjoys, and his oldest daughter is preparing to start kindergarten.
“I am one of the luckiest people in the world to be resettled in Kentucky”, said Abdulrahim. “I am excited to be here in the U.S. because there is opportunity in America for democracy, and justice. I am not able to live freely in Sudan. In the refugee camp, I was not treated as a human being. After resettling in the U.S., I feel like I have recovered as a human being.”
While the family is happy to be living safely in the U.S., they are very fearful for the wellbeing of Abdulrahim’s elderly grandmother, who is still living in the same refugee camp in Kenya. The family was expecting her to arrive this year, but that was before the executive order on immigration was issued last week. Beginning March 16, 2017, the executive order will stop refugee resettlement for 120 days and reduce the overall number of refugee arrivals for 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000.
Abdulrahim remains worried, as he explained, “I respect the decision to issue the executive order, but I am very disappointed and sad to hear about it. My people are not part of the regime in Sudan, and because of this we are not welcome. People are suffering in the refugee camp. There are many orphans, single mothers, and elderly people. They need help.”
Catholic Charities MRS is expecting to receive its final refugee arrival on March 8th before the order goes into effect. It remains uncertain when refugee arrivals will resume. Currently, the average amount of time refugees wait to come to the U.S. from the time of approval is 18-24 months. Refugees have a very short 60-day window to travel to the U.S. before their security and medical checks expire. In light of the executive order, refugees who have been waiting for years to resettle will now have to wait months, and for some even years, to travel to the U.S.
“She is supposed to come to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Kenya, she is 80 years old and has medical issues that need treatment.” said Abdulrahim about his grandmother. “When she called me, I told her about the executive order and she started crying. I do not know if she will survive if she is not able to come to the U.S.”
The executive order on immigration will have real and long-lasting effects for families like Abdulrahim’s, and for all of the refugees who are waiting to resettle in the U.S. Join us in taking a stand against the revised executive order by showing support for refugees and immigrants in our community, across the U.S., and all over the world.
There are many ways to get involved. Visit our website to find out how you can take a stand today.