Travel ban prevents refugees from arriving in Charleston as scheduled

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The recent travel ban is preventing refugees from coming to Charleston.

Last month President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stops refugees from coming into the U.S. for at least 120 days, that's about four months.

President Trump cites recent terror attacks around the world as the reason for the ban.

A refugee is someone who had been forced to leave their country where often times they don't feel safe.

Refugee Services Coordinator, Brian Evanger, helps refugees with the transition into the Charleston area. He's a coordinator through the Lutheran Services Carolinas.

"They are fleeing war, they are fleeing hardships and they are particularly vulnerable in the refugee camps that they are staying at," Evanger said.

The refugees that come to live in Charleston are primarily  from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some also come from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I was disappointed about the ban," Evanger said.

So far this year there have been 30 refugees that have already arrived in Charleston, while the travel plans for 13 refugees have been put on hold because of the recent travel ban.

It has been a setback because the travel ban only allows refugees who already have close family ties in the U.S. to move to the U.S.

"Of the 13 that were supposed to arrive here, there is a family of five whose father is already here in America, so they do have that bonafide relationship to an individual," Evanger said.

Evanger says they still have to have the documentation to prove the relationship which could take time.

He says the resettlement screening process takes two to three years.

"It's the most rigorous in the world," Evanger said. "Actually refugees into the US is the most background checked people that come to America and they have the most screenings of anyone that comes to any county."

The refugees headed for Charleston were planning to be here by October. The only step left in most cases was to purchase the flight tickets. Now it's uncertain when or if they will arrive.

On Wednesday the United States met the 50,000 refugee admissions cap set by the Trump Administration for the 2017 Fiscal Year. The previous administration had a cap that was more than double that amount.

This means many refugees will be denied access to the U.S. unless they can prove they have a 'bonafide' relationship with someone already in the U.S.

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