Refugee Resettled in Texas Details Thorough Vetting Process | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Refugee Resettled in Texas Details Thorough Vetting Process

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    Frishta Ali, an Iraqi refugee living in North Texas, speaks about the thorough admittance process she endured to enter the United States. (Published Friday, Jan. 27, 2017)

    President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for the "extreme vetting" of refugees admitted into the United States.

    The executive order suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and singles out Syrian refugees as "detrimental to the interests of the United States," banning the issuance of visas to people from Syria until the president feels the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program's vetting process is strengthened.

    Frishta Ali has been through that process. She's a refugee from Iraq who was resettled in Texas nearly three years ago. In her experience, the United States is doing a thorough job already.

    "It took me four years to go through this process. It was so hard for me to wait all these years under the situation I was going through," Ali said, sitting in the living room of her Allen home.

    Ali applied for refugee status in 2010. Her sister was an interpreter for the U.S. Army, which put a target on her family's back.

    "Our lives were being threatened by religious groups, terrorists. We'd be moving from one place to another place to be safe," Ali recalled.

    Like the vast majority of refugees applying for resettlement in the United States Ali underwent a thorough vetting process.

    From 2010 to 2013 she was interviewed on multiple occasions, underwent a medical screening, and multiple background checks. Her information was shared with multiple federal agencies, including Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the intelligence community.

    As this was happening, she was living in Iraq, constantly looking over her shoulder.

    "You feel that someone is watching you, someone is threatening you. It's so hard for you not to be settled in your own country and to wait for the decision to move somewhere completely different," she said.

    On Feb. 1, 2014, Ali's application was accepted. She left behind her brother and several family members for the chance to start a safer life in America. Though, she says, part of her heart is still in Iraq.

    "I feel this is my country, but part of my heart is in my home country," she said.

    The rest of her family, including her husband, is still in Iraq. They're currently in the middle of the same arduous process she went through. She's uncertain whether the executive order signed Friday will put a lag on an already slow-moving process.

    "I want to be with my family. I want to be with my husband. I want my brother, my sister, my niece, my nephews to be here and to be safe. This decision is going to affect all of my life and my family's lives," she said.

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