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‘We made it:’ Somali refugee arrives in US before new rules

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SAN DIEGO (AP) – Ali Said fled his war-torn Somalia two decades ago after his right leg was blown off by a grenade. Last year, the father of seven was shot in his other leg by robbers while living in a Kenyan refugee camp.

As Said rolled his wheelchair up to a desk in a San Diego office hours after arriving in California from Kenya, he felt unbelievably lucky: He and his family are among the last refugees allowed into the United States before the Trump administration’s latest travel ban rules kick in.

“Until this moment, in this interview, I still don’t believe that I’m in the United States,” Said told The Associated Press through a translator on Thursday, smiling while his two sons hung at the back of his wheelchair. “So during the flight, we all were saying that we are in a dream and it’s not true yet until we finally landed at LAX and we all said to each other: ‘Yeah, we’re finally here. We made it.'”
The U.S. refugee admissions program will be suspended July 12 when a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions for the current fiscal year – the lowest in a decade- is expected to be reached, according to the U.S. State Department.

Once the cap is hit, only refugees who have a relationship with an immediate family member or ties to a business in the United States will be eligible for admission during the 120-day suspension, the State Department guidelines say.

Those guidelines come after the Supreme Court partially reinstated the Trump administration’s executive order banning citizens of six mainly Muslim countries and refugees from coming into the U.S.
The high court’s ruling allowed for an exemption: Those with a “bona fide” relationship to the United States. Under State Department guidelines that was defined as immediate family such as a parent, spouse, child, sibling or business.

Said is aware of the difference a week could have made. He, his wife and children, ages 2 to 15, have no ties to the U.S. beyond the refugee resettlement agency, which the U.S. government says is not sufficient.

“I was afraid our case would be closed,” he said. “It would have been a rough life.”

He said refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp where he lived have talked every day about President Donald Trump’s travel ban since it was first issued in January. It was blocked several times by U.S. courts before the Supreme Court partially reinstated it in June. The Trump administration says the travel ban is necessary to keep Americans safe and to allow the federal government to review the vetting process for refugees and others.

Advocates say the ban will close the doors on many of the most vulnerable.

A record 65 million people currently are displaced by war and persecution worldwide, according to the U.N. refugee agency. It selects the most at-risk refugees to be recommended to governments for resettlement, which traditionally have included victims of gender-based violence, LGBT refugees, members of political opposition groups and people with medical issues.

But the new requirements could mean many of those refugees could be passed over for those who have an immediate family member already in the United States.

“This is part of the disconnect now,” said David Murphy, executive director of the International Rescue Committee’s San Diego office. “We identify families based upon need and now they have to have a U.S. tie.”

Said, who spent eight years being vetted for refugee resettlement, had feared he would never leave Kakuma, a 25-year-old camp that is home to about 172,000 refugees.

About a year ago, robbers broke into his home at the camp and tried to rape his wife, he said. Said, who was on crutches after losing his right leg to a grenade explosion in 1993, was shot in his good leg while fighting off the men. A neighbor coming to their aid shot to death one of the robbers. Said’s children were home at the time.

The shooting left him with a fractured hip, and it still has not healed. He plans to get medical help now that he is in the United States. On his first night in his new country, Said and his family said they slept peacefully in a San Diego motel.

But the feelings of happiness and relief are tinged with sadness, too.

“I don’t like it that others like me won’t be able to make it here,” he said. “The life there is so hard. No matter how hard you work, you don’t have enough to meet your basic needs.”

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Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Minnesota

Rep. Ellison, Rep. Emmer, and Colleagues Introduce Resolution Condemning Terror Attack in Mogadishu

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WASHINGTON — On the one-month anniversary of the October 14th terror attack on Mogadishu, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), along with Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced House Resolution 620, which condemns the attack, expresses sympathy for its victims and their families, and reaffirms U.S. support for Somalia.

The October 14th terror attack killed more than 350 people, including three American citizens, and injured another 200—making it the single deadliest in Somalia’s history.

“It’s been a month since the terrible and cowardly attack on Mogadishu, and my heart still breaks for the people of Somalia and their families and friends here in the United States,” Ellison said. “The people of Somalia have shown incredible resilience— coming together not only as part of an inspiring effort to recover from this attack, but also to rebuild their nation in the spirit of peace and prosperity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to express solidarity with the people of Somalia by strongly condemning the senseless violence, extending our condolences to all those affected by the attack, and reaffirming continued U.S. support for Somalia.”

“Just over a month ago, Mogadishu experienced a horrific and tragic terrorist attack,” said Emmer. “This attack hit close to home with three of our fellow Americans – including one Minnesotan – among the more than 350 men, women and children who lost their lives far too soon. I stand with my colleagues and the Somali community to condemn last month’s attack. I am proud to work with my colleagues to offer condolences and lend support as Somalia works to rebuild itself and its communities in the wake of this recent tragedy. Today, and every day, we stand against terror and join together to rid this world of evil.”
The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

“Strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017, and expressing condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attack and their families.

Whereas on October 14, 2017, a truck bomb filled with military grade and homemade explosives detonated at a busy intersection in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, and took the lives of more than 350 people and injured more than 200 additional people;

Whereas at least three Americans, Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, were killed in the attack;

Whereas the Somali Government believes that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack, although no official claims of responsibility have yet been made;

Whereas Al-Shabaab has previously avoided claiming responsibility for Al Shabaab operations when it believes the operation may significantly damage its public image among Somalis;

Whereas the Department of State condemned ‘‘in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds in Mogadishu on October 14’’;

Whereas the Department of State stated that ‘‘the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity’’;

Whereas according to the Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism for 2016, Al-Shabaab is the most potent threat to regional stability in East Africa;

Whereas the United States continues to support counterterrorism efforts in coordination with the Government of Somalia, international partners, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mainly through capacity building programs, advise and assist missions, and intelligence support;

Whereas Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack;

Whereas the vibrant, bustling district of Mogadishu where the attack occurred is characteristic of the city’s revitalization, and the solidarity and efforts by the city’s residents to rebuild already are a testament to their resilience; and

Whereas Somalia has been a strong partner to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14, 2017;

(2) expresses its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies for the victims of the attack and their families;

(3) honors the memories of Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, Mohamoud Elmi, and Abukar Dahie, who were murdered in the horrific terrorist attack;

(4) recognizes the significant efforts to combat terrorism by the Government of Somalia, the countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and United States forces in Somalia;

(5) reaffirms United States support for the Government of Somalia’s efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity and combat terrorism in Somalia; and

(6) renews the solidarity of the people and Government of the United States with the people and Government of Somalia.”

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Canada

Somali youth project update (Project TooSoo)

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CBC —  For the past year, a group of young Somalis in Toronto has been learning how to re-claim the stories told about their community.

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Sports

Looking back on my Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace | Mo Farah

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I recently had the honour of being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When I came to the UK from Somalia aged 8, not speaking any English, who would have thought that my running would eventually lead me here? This was another very special gold medal for me and I am so honoured to have received it. Here’s a little glimpse of how the day went for me.

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