Refugee’s family stuck in Kenya, so he is suing
Afkab Mohamed Hussein’s wife tells him his 2-year-old son is a “smart and naughty” toddler, but Hussein has never held him in his arms.
The Somali refugee hasn’t been able to play with his son, Abdullahi Afkab Mohamed, and he hasn’t seen his wife, Rhodo Hassan Abdirahman, in more than two years.
The 29-year-old North Side resident, who came to the United States from a Kenyan refugee camp in September 2015, has joined a lawsuit filed Monday to fight President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban. The order bars the entry of refugees from 11 countries, nine of which are majority Muslim, for at least 90 days.
Before the Oct. 24 executive order announcing more vetting of those entering the country, Hussein’s wife and son, who are still living in a Kenyan refugee camp, were approved to join him in the United States. The new order, however, stopped that.
“I came to the United States because I wanted to be able to provide shelter and safety for my family,” Hussein, a truck driver, wrote in a declaration of his case.
Trump suspended the Follow to Join program in the executive order on the recommendation of Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Acting Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Tillerson, Duke and Coats, in an Oct. 23 memo, said the refugee vetting process is “generally adequate” but required a few new conditions.
One of those conditions: “additional security measures” be put in place before more family members, or “following-to-join” refugees, are allowed in the country.
Hussein is represented by Community Refugee and Immigration Services, said Angie Plummer, executive director of the Columbus nonprofit advocacy group. She has about 50 other clients in similar situations.
Hussein originally was told his wife and son would be able to join him within a year of his arrival in the country. His family was approved to join him in June 2016.
The class-action lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Seattle, names the defendants as Trump, Duke, Tillerson, Coats and the latter three’s offices and asks the court to block the executive order.
The plaintiffs also include two Jewish Family Service organizations; Allen R. Vaught, a veteran of the Iraq war who hired another plaintiff, John Doe 1, as a translator in 2003 and has been trying to help him resettle to the U.S. since 2014; and six more unnamed people. They are being represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project.
The first thing Hussein wants to do if and when his family can join him is to “throw a big party and get a nice apartment,” Hussein said through a Somali interpreter in the CRIS office Tuesday.
“Now I am indefinitely unable to reunite with my wife and son,” Hussein wrote in the declaration. “I feel helpless because my responsibility is to protect and care for my wife and son, and I cannot do so from so far away.”
Columbus resident Afkab Mohamed Hussein displays a cellphone photo of his wife, Rhodo Hassan Abdirahman, and his son, Abdullahi Afkab Mohamed, who live in a refugee camp in Kenya.