Charlotte refugee assistance organization in limbo after Trump's - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte refugee assistance organization in limbo after Trump's Executive Order

(Sarah-Blake Morgan | WBTV) (Sarah-Blake Morgan | WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order halting the flow of refugees coming into the United States. With the exception of those coming from Syria, the administration says the suspension is temporary - 120 days to be exact.

But for the people working at The Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, 120 days of uncertainty lie ahead.

While contracting with the State Department, the non-profit helped resettle 384 people from ten different countries in Charlotte last year. Marsha Hirsch is CRRA’s Executive Director.

“I think that when you can understand the type of experience people have been through, just torn out of their homes and their lives through no circumstances of their own,” she said.

Hirsch said they were busy bringing more families to Charlotte in January, but February will be different. Because of Trump’s order, the 37 people expected to arrive will not. Hirsch calls Trump’s actions unnecessary.

“Those people have been deleted from our system – so where they are, they’re just stranded abroad,” she said.

Tuesday morning, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stood by president Trump’s order saying it was a matter of national security.

“We cannot gamble with American lives. I will not gamble with American lives… It’s my sworn responsibility as the Secretary of Homeland Security to protect and defend the American people,” he said.

Hirsch told WBTV she’s never had a security concern with any of the refugees she’s resettled and to look no further than her staff. More than half of them spent years going through the vetting process themselves as refugees.

Ahmed Albadri worked for the US in his native Iraq. He says he was targeted by Al Qaeda because of his job and came to the states as a refugee in 2013.

“They said always we will kill you because you work with the USA people. AL Qaeda tried to kill me and Shia group tried to kill me,” he said.

Albadri spent three years going through the refugee vetting process. His brothers are still in Iraq and have waited four years for their ticket into the United States. Albadri worries what this new ban will mean for his family’s future.

“The refugees aren’t terrorists, the refugees are refugees. They want peace,” he said.

Gabiella Ndawula is another former refugee working at CRRA. She says it took her family 11 years to get refugee clearance.

“When I was told about the president signing the order, I started crying because I imagined the people who were waiting to come,” she said.

Trump’s administration has repeatedly said they are temporarily suspending the refugee program to review and strengthen the current vetting process.

Albadri hopes to see refugees like himself coming into the United States once the 120 days are up. He says a chance at life in the United States is all some have.

“The people always want hope and if you stop this hope, there is not light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

For more information about CRRA, visit www.carolinarefugee.org.

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