Share story

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.


Abdalla Munye and his wife resettled in Georgia a couple of 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 reunited 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.


Somali refugee Nimo Hashi bought couches and a new kitchen table for her Salt Lake City apartment in anticipation of reuniting Friday with her husband 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 United States 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.”


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.


The Somali community in Providence, Rhode Island, prepared traditional home-cooked meals — including goat meat, vegetables and 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?”


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.


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 brought her two older daughters to the U.S. but 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.'”


Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City; Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amy Forliti in Minneapolis; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, and Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.