January 31, 2017 05:10 PM EST
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Watch: Iraqi woman in U.S. has been trying to get visas for her twin daughters in Baghdad.
Twin girls in limbo in Baghdad
Meathaq Alaunaibi – an Iraqi refugee – thinks of her twin daughters every day. She arrived in America with her husband and two youngest children more than 5 months ago. They currently live in Tennessee. But there’s a void in the Alaunaibi family. Meathaq desperately wants to secure visas for her twin daughters to come to the United States.
Meathaq’s husband worked with the U.S. Army for 14 years as an interpreter in Baghdad. But it’s that job that likely made them a target. Meathaq’s husband was severely injured in a car bombing in 2014.
A plea to President Trump
Meathaq is pleading with President Trump to allow her daughters to come to the United States.
“Mr. Trump, we are a normal people,” she said. “We are just like any people over there. We are refugees and immigrants. We leave everything in Iraq. We leave our homes, we leave our cars, we leave our jobs because we love this country and we’ll be part of this country.”
The Executive Order
The Trump administration’s Executive Order to restrict immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq, is disheartening to Meathaq. The EO suspend’s refugee admission for 120 days, and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely. However, Defense Secretary James Mattis is reportedly crafting a list of Iraqis who worked with the U.S. military that he believes should be exempt from the order.
Spicer: In the interest of national security
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that the administration’s decision was based on national security and reassessing the current vetting system. He said “getting ahead of the threats is key. Not waiting until they happen.”
Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director of Refugee & Immigration Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Washington, D.C. told Circa “the rhetoric that we’ve been hearing is disturbing.”
She said there is a great distinction between the European refugee crisis and the United States process.
“Refugees first began to come into the United States through a very well-organized system and structure, a system that is distinct , for example, from the challenges that we’ve seen that Europe is facing in recent years,” she said. “Until last year, refugees were never ones who were in the political limelight. It was not controversial to be a refugee.”
Refugee mom wants her family reunited
Life is not easy for Meathaq and her family, but she said she has been welcomed with open arms by her new Tennessee neighbors. She has also made it her mission to tell her story about her twin daughters, both of whom are in their early years of college studying medicine.
“I feel the freedom here, I feel American and all I want is for my daughters to have the same and be safe,” she said.
Meathaq’s family submitted their applications for their visas more than five years ago and waited through the process of lengthy investigations. But her daughters turned 18 before the approvals were granted. Meathaq said that overlap led to extensive paperwork and bureaucratic delays. “The disaster is my twin daughters are still in Iraq right now,” Meathaq said. “They are in danger.”
Follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC