President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.
Caritas is a single mom who lives in Bismarck. She was supposed to be reunited with her children on February 24th. She hasn’t seen her children in 10 years. With President Trump’s executive order, she now has to wait even longer. She asked us not to use her last name in fears that her children in Africa would become a target.
Caritas, Congo refugee: ” I say I struggle a lot. Right now I am survivor. I appreciate God that my kids survived too.”
Caritas was taken from her two children in Congo in 2007.
Caritas: “I was kidnapped with enemies, then at the time I separated with my kids was 2007.”
Malique Rankin, Reporter: “And you haven’t seen them since?”
Turtukan Toskokova works for Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. She has been working on Caritas’ children’s cases.
Turtukan Tostokova; Refugee Resettlement Program, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota: ” These two kids were separated from their parents in 2007, September 2007 during the tribal clash in their village. Parents were taken hostage by a rebel group. The kids, by that time, they were 7 and 9, they were left with a neighbor. The father was murdered. The mother made it through to Uganda and from Uganda she applied for the refugee program. All the time thinking that her kids were murdered as well.”
In 2013, Caritas moved to the United States. That same year, here children moved from Congo to Uganda hoping to find safety.
Caritas: “They are orphans there… My kids, they don’t the place where they can stay. So that’s why I say that I need more help to receive them here.”
Caritas recently moved into a larger apartment, bought her children new furniture, and prepared for her children’s February arrival.
Caritas: “I don’t know what I can do from now.”
She says she’s trying to do everything she can to get her children back.
Caritas: “I am a single mother. I am working very hard, to pay the school fees of them, to do everything because I don’t have any family. My family is my kids.”
Even though refugee programs anticipated President Trump’s ban, many kept preparing for arrivals in hopes the executive order wasn’t signed.
Turtukan Tostokova: “We didn’t stop our preparation for new arrivals. We were expecting two elderly Iraqi couples tonight, and two teenagers joining their mother on February 24. We were in full process of preparation for these arrivals.”
Caritas: “I am not ok. But I try because I believe in God. I am a Christian. I pray for them every day to be strong, because it’s very, very hard.”
Caritas children’ medical clearance expires in February, before the 120 day refugee program suspension is up. That means her children may have to go through much of the clearance process again before they can come to the U.S.
Caritas is one of the three cases in Bismarck, and thousands across the country.