The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has operated in North Carolina for 10 years, one of four groups that assist refugees in the Triangle. It has helped about 3,000 in a decade, including 370 in the last fiscal year. About 1,000 refugees arrive in the Triangle each year.
As anti-refugee policies have been passed and rhetoric has been increasingly negative surrounding Muslim refugees and immigrants, USCRI North Carolina has experienced a flood of volunteers and donations from citizens who are eager to support their new neighbors.
The group has a “Welcome Home” initiative in which residents furnish apartments, provide home-cooked meals and meet refugees at the airport. “They serve as first friends, in a lot of ways,” Scott Phillips says, executive director of Raleigh’s USCRI office.
One of their new neighbors is a woman named Bushra Mohammed. She came to the U.S. as a refugee but had to leave her son in Iraq. He has now been approved for resettlement, but will be separated from his mother for a while longer because of the President’s Executive Order. Mohammed is unable to work because of illness, and would greatly benefit from her son working in the U.S. and helping to support her. Unfortunately, Mohammed’s situation is not unique. Many families face separation due to the Executive Order.
Mohammed cried as she spoke of her son. “I have hope,” she said through an interpreter, “that Mr. President … that he will have some goodness inside him.”
Photo Credit: Chris Seward