VICE News

Meet Some of the Last Refugees Welcomed to America Before Trump’s Ban

“In America, this is how we do things, and you’re all Americans now.”
January 30, 2017, 5:33pm

In the basement of a stately, high-ceilinged church here earlier this month, a class for newly arrived refugees was momentarily interrupted by a young boy dressed in a Christmas-colored elf costume and a girl in a princess dress who'd run in chasing after him. Both were after their mother, who was seated among other Afghan and Iraqi women attending the day-long crash course on American laws, culture, and local logistics. It would be one of the last refugee orientations conducted in the US for some time. Roughly 50 men, women, and children from a half-dozen countries sat at small, round classroom tables to take in the spectacle of resettlement professionals and volunteers role-playing various aspects of American life. Instructors offered advice on how to properly handle domestic arguments before they turned violent, every day interactions with pharmacists, and diet and exercise. Down the hall, children played with blocks and puzzles and other toys. "In America, this is how we do things," Chris George, the director of New Haven's Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services resettlement program, said to the class, "and you're all Americans now." It was as much a welcoming embrace as the kind of carefully constructed warning worried parents are prone to using—listen to me; it's for your own good. George paused while translators at each table delivered his declarative statement to refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria; a wave of smiles and laughter soon followed. Upon arriving in the United States, resettlement workers like George and his colleagues are usually a refugee's lifeline, coach, and first phone call, providing them with crucial support and guidance on their way to self-sufficiency. Read more on VICE News

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