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Thursday, 31 October 2019 16:56

Refugees: Refused or Welcomed?

Written by Editorial Staff
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The Trump administration slashed the “cap” on the number of refugees accepted into the US in fiscal year 2019 to 30,000, and has admitted just 18,051 as of May 31, 2019.* The Pew Research Center says, “the United States plans to admit a maximum of 18,000 refugees in fiscal year 2020, down from a cap of 30,000 in the one that ended Sept. 30, 2019, under a new refugee admissions ceiling set by the Trump administration.”

Affiliate Gail Kelley responds to refugees differently. She wrote for Maryknoll magazine in 2016 about “Seeing the Face of Christ” in refugees and now gives an update on the progress of one refugee family. Quoting from the 2016 article: “The Refugee Resettlement Ministry (RRM) at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, my parish in Raleigh, NC, … which was initiated in 1986, has assisted in resettling 33 families.” Gail says the Semahoro family is typical of their experience.

Gail Kelley greets the Semahoros in the airport.

Bashir Semahoro, a Congolese native, arrived with his family in Raleigh in October 2013. “We were cattle ranchers in the Congo when we were attacked by another indigenous tribe,” he said. “My parents were killed, my wife raped, and one of my children lost. My wife, three daughters, my brother, and I escaped with nothing but the clothes on our backs. It took us four months to walk to Ethiopia, where we were placed in a refugee camp operated by the United Nations.”

Gail wrote, “The members of our RRM have indeed seen the face of Christ in the strangers we have welcomed. They have inspired us with their unshakable faith, their unquenchable desire to be free in spite of persecution and imprisonment, their family values, their joy in simplicity, and their determination to become full and productive Americans. As a Maryknoll Affiliate, I am proud to be part of this ministry to vulnerable people from whom I learn so much.”

Gail Kelley, surrounded by the Semahoro family, developed a long-term friendship with them during their years in Raleigh.

Update: Gail keeps in contact with the family and sends this update: The Semahoro Family now lives in Austin, Texas, have a mortgage on a home, and are speaking fluent English. Both parents have full-time jobs. Aline, their oldest daughter, is attending community college on a scholarship to study nursing.

The Refugee Resettlement Ministry in Raleigh has since settled two families from the Congo and a Muslim family from Afghanistan. It now looks forward, at the end of 2019, to settling its 36th family.

If you are interested in Refugee Resettlement, initial or ongoing, go to: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr and click on State Program Directory for the voluntary agencies in your area.

*Note: Read more about the US reductions of legally vetted refugees at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/trump-refugees.html.

 


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