Governor Kelly welcomes refugees to Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The number of refugees coming to the United States is going down but other countries, like Germany, are welcoming more refugees than ever before.

On average, from 2008 to 2017, more than 67,000 refugees came to the United States each year. In 2016, President Obama allowed 10,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the U.S. For the upcoming, 2020 fiscal year, President Trump has set a limit of allowing just 18,000 refugees into the U.S.

Dr. Sofia Khan has been helping refugees settle in the Kansas and Missouri area for years. She even helped the first Syrian family to the United States after President Obama’s 10,000 refugee surge. The al-Abboud family was living in a storage unit in Jordan prior to their move to the U.S.

Khan says 21 agencies had rejected the family.

“My yea or nay brings a family of seven out of a storage container to a new life in America? It’s a yea,” said Khan.

Khan saw a need for community support for refugees.

“I literally stayed up three nights on my prayer rug, 3 o’clock in the morning, literally crying about it saying, ‘God, I know these people need the help and the community wants to help,'” remembered Khan.

Khan created the non-profit KC for Refugees that helps with everything from paying bills to finding clothing and food.

“We have literally been just sharing our own things with these people that have moved here and we still have a lot to give,” explained Khan. “I have to say no to people when they now call because I say there aren’t enough refugees coming.”

Khan says she is concerned that the United States is accepting so few refugees compared to previous years.

“We always used to be the flag-bearer, we always took the most number of refugees…we are no longer on the podium where we used to be as the leaders in helping the resettlement of refugees,” said Khan.

President Trump signed an executive order that now gives states the ability to refuse refugees. Governor Laura Kelly sent a letter to President Trump saying Kansas is open and welcoming to refugees.

“Almost every community in Kansas was built with immigrants and refugees,” said Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers, “Our communities depend on the refugees working in our communities. I’m really thrilled with the opportunity. I think it says a lot about the character and how honorable the people of Kansas are.”

Khan says that people should not be afraid of refugees as they are all meticulously screened before being approved to come to America.

“These people are scrutinized for years and years and they don’t just get qualified to come here in a few weeks. Some refugees, if you ask them, they waited 11 years, 17 years,” explained Khan. “Years and years to get under that quota and get the clearance.

Khan also gave an update on the al-Abboud family that arrived to Kansas City in 2016.

Since their move to the U.S., the family has welcomed two new children. Thanks to support from the community, Ahmed, the father, was able to have surgery to remove shrapnel from his body. The young son was able to be evaluated for a heart condition soon after arrival. Both Ahmed and his wife have a car. The family was also given free dental work. The kids are all doing very well in America.

“He is happy to call America home…he said, ‘although Syria will always live in my heart, there is no Syria to go back to…this is my home,'” added Khan.

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