New travel ban poses questions for refugees in Central Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus has resettled more than 800 people, all of them highly vetted before arriving in Ohio.

The director says President Trump’s new travel ban will have long-term effects on legal refugees.

Mustafa Muhammed is an engineer working here in Central Ohio. It took years of background checks overseas before he was allowed into America.

“My self, it has taken me like five years, and my parents, it has taken more than five years, and they are still there,” Muhammed said.

Muhammed’s family members are Iraqi Kurds stuck in Egypt, who Muhammed said can’t go back and can’t go forward.

“It is really hard because I don’t know if I am going to see them again or not,” he said. “It is really hard, because me and my parents, all my life we have lived together.”

Angie Plummer, the executive director of CRIS says a travel ban punishes all legal refugees, like Muhammed.

“I think one of the most misleading aspects of the ban is this notion [that] with the ban, it is a temporary pause,” she said.

Plummer said overseas vetting goes through time-sensitive steps.

“It grinds that machinery to a halt,” she explained. “All those security clearances expire, the medical checks expire, and to get things going again, we are looking at a year to get things going again.”

The new travel ban also caps the number of refugees who may be admitted each year at 50,000 — down from 110,000 under former President Barack Obama.

“I have many families we work with that we filed applications with tree and four years ago who have been waiting,” Plummer said. “[They have] done DNA testing for their families, the family members have had all this screening done and they are going to get stuck.”

The ban would also require the federal government to start collecting news stories on immigrants who commit crimes to justify why the travel ban is needed.

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