- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Somali refugee Nimo Hashi bought a new kitchen table and couches for her Salt Lake City apartment in joyful anticipation of reuniting Friday with her husband for the first time in nearly three years.

But he won’t be arriving as planned to see her and the 2-year-old daughter he has never met.

He is among hundreds of people stuck in limbo after President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banned refugees and nearly all travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.

Holding back tears while she held her daughter, Hashi, 24, said she prayed while watching the news that the ban wouldn’t affect her husband’s case. But on Monday, she received the news that her husband must stay in Ethiopia.

Hashi said she last saw her husband when she was two months pregnant with their daughter, Taslim. The couple met in Ethiopia after both fled Somalia amid the civil war. Her refugee case had already been approved, so officials told her to go ahead to the United States where she could apply for her husband to join her.

“I was so happy and joyous. But that dream is shattered,” Hashi said through a translator. “This is not right just singling out people from Muslim countries, being singled out based on religion.”

Hashi’s husband is one of 68 refugees whose planned arrivals in Utah in the coming weeks were cancelled after Trump’s ban was announced, according to the two social service agencies that handle resettlement to Utah: Catholic Community Services and the International Rescue Committee.

It’s not clear what will happen to their cases.

Only about one-third of the 105 refugees scheduled to come to Utah before the end of February are still coming, according to figures from the organizations.

Their extended families already in Utah are devastated by the sudden turn of events, said Aden Batar, director of immigration and refugee resettlement for Catholic Community Services of Utah. Apartments had been rented and furnished for the families, and schools notified of incoming students, he said.

Among the refugees now stuck in limbo were some coming under the government’s Special Immigrant Visa program for translators and interpreters who worked with American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,

Now stuck in their countries, the lives of the interpreters and their families could be in danger because terrorists often know they have been helping the Americans, Batar said.

The International Rescue Committee is hopeful that one such person may still be allowed to come, said Natalie El-Deiry, acting executive director for the organization’s Salt Lake City office.

“They’ve put their lives at risk while assisting the U.S. military,” El-Deiry said. “They deserve to have sanctuary in our country.”

Though Trump comfortably won the mostly Republican state, his stance on refugees puts him at odds with the Mormon church and some top leaders such as Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican.

Utah’s unique political culture, dominated by the Mormon church, puts a premium on personal decency and openness to immigrants and refugees. The embrace of refugees by the religion has roots in the history of the faith, which counted many immigrants among its early members.

Utah receives about 1,200 refugees each year and has a total of about 60,000 in the state.

“Every day I meet with those families, and I have to break the bad news that their families are not coming,” Batar said. “It is really heartbreaking.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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