Client Story: Alone
Matthew* fled persecution in his home country of Iraq in 2013 and went to Turkey in fear of his life. He left his son in the care of his ex-wife and promised to return for him when things were more stable. Matthew registered with the UNHCR in Turkey and was referred to the U.S. Refugee Program for resettlement. In 2015, Matthew received information about his travel to the United States and asked IOM (International Organization for Migration, the agency coordinating travel for refugees) if his son could join him. Since his son was still in Iraq and not connected to his own case, the International Office of Migration recommended he apply for him upon arrival in the U.S. Matthew arrived to Philadelphia in November 2014. Within a month, Matthew started the application for his son to join him in the U.S. His son was 15 at the time. After two years of processing, DNA testing and submission of evidence of the relationship, the case was finally approved and assigned to NSC in December 2016.
On January 27, 2017, the administration implemented a travel ban on all refugees and other immigrants from a specified list of Muslim-majority counties, including Iraq. Matthew was devastated. NSC advocated for the arrival of his son after the travel ban had lifted but at that point, all processing of refugee cases overseas were being delayed due to an increase in required background clearances and security checks. Now, two and half years later, Matthew’s son is 19. This means he is undergoing additional security clearances because he is an adult, delaying the case even more. And while he waits, he, too, is now fleeing persecution and living in unsafe environments where his life is threatened on a regular basis.
“My son was 15 when I first applied for him [to be resettled in the United States as a refugee] and now he is 19, I am alone here, by myself, I have no one, I want to see my son before I die, I need someone to be here with me when I die. I have no one.”
Will you join us in advocating for the continuation of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, to reunite families like Matthew and his son?! Click here to learn more and for your elected officials contact information.
*name changed for confidentiality