Part Five: Stories of Refugees Impacted by the Executive Order

“Tesfaye* and his family, including his wife and six children, are refugees in Kenya. Tesfaye has been a refugee for 20 years, having escaped persecution in his home country of Ethiopia. In December 2016, the family was elated to be informed that their resettlement case processing was finally coming to an end and that they would be resettled to the U.S. in a period of less than 2 months.

After 20 years of struggle, and surviving torture that left him with permanent physical injuries, Tesfaye could finally see the hope of a new beginning for his family – an opportunity to live in safety and dignity.

Tesfaye’s journey as a refugee has been extremely difficult. He originally fled to Kenya in 1997, began his family, and lived in Kenya until 2010, when he was deported back to Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Tesfaye was detained for nearly one year in a prison where he was tortured. Relatives contributed money for Tesfaye’s release from prison and for the treatment of his torture wounds. In 2011 Tesfaye returned to Kenya, and to his wife and children, but surviving has not been easy. Despite working hard, and running a small food stand with the help of a business grant, the family continues to live in very poor living conditions.

Talking with Tesfaye on January 30, he was vaguely aware of a new presidency in the U.S., but did not know how the new policy would affect his travel plans. Tesfaye and his family will undoubtedly need to wait longer to travel, or may lose their chance altogether to be resettled. This will certainly come as a heavy blow to a family who has already endured so much hardship.”

This story was shared with us by a RefugePoint Livelihoods Associate who has worked one-on-one with Tesfaye and his family, and with many other refugee families that are impacted by the recent executive order.

*Name changed for anonymity.