The list of President Donald Trump’s cruel acts is endless. One thing that’s easy to overlook is his cap of refugees coming to the U.S. at just 18,000. That’s by far the lowest number since the program started in 1980. In many years, the numbers were way above 100,000. The highest numbers of refugees admitted to the U.S. came under Republican Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The refugees come here to escape persecution, and in many cases, death. For example, there’s Laetitia Mizero Hellerud, 51, of West Fargo. She escaped the Burundi Civil War. Many of her family members did not. They were murdered, along with 300,000 other people. Some were killed by machete. Others were burned to death.
“We had to leave immediately,” Hellerud said. “I was afraid I was going to be killed.”
Hellerud has worked with new Americans, runs a consulting business, and has written two books.
“I’ve had opportunities here that I would never have in Burundi,” Hellerud said. “It’s a place where I can dream and feel I can achieve everything. I love living here.”
Ashti Mahoney, 23, of Fargo, also is lucky to be alive. Mahoney came here from Iraq. Her father was an interpreter for the U.S. Army, which made the family very vulnerable.
“We received death threats. I probably would have died,” Mahoney said. “I never went to a restaurant or a mall because I was never sure I would make it back. I just stayed home.”
Mahoney struggled at first because of the new culture and language, but has since thrived. She got married and is studying to be a radiologist.
“I love America. It’s safe here,” Mahoney said. “I love the freedom here.”
Muhend Abakar, 21, of Fargo, escaped the violence and hunger in Sudan. Several of his relatives were shot and killed.
“There was a genocide,” Abakar said. “If you went outside you never knew if you were coming back.”
Abakar is a student at North Dakota State University. He plans to become a financial analyst, and eventually wants to start his own company.
“Fargo is so cold and the people are so warm,” Abakar said. “Fargo is a great place to raise a family. I love the people here.”
It is a huge stain on this nation’s reputation that Trump has slashed the refugee numbers. We’re supposed to be the leaders of the free world. We’re supposed to be compassionate, humane and the land of opportunity. We’re supposed to help innocent people who don’t have homes or food and are staring death in the face. Beyond that, bringing in more refugees would help many businesses, as this country struggles with a shortage of workers. The least we could do is bring in some of the Kurds we abandoned and turned into refugees.
We are lucky to have people like Laetitia, Ashti, and Muhend living amongst us. We need more people like them.