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How the travel ban to seven countries being lifted is providing hope to families in Idaho

Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 20:55:18-05

MAGIC VALLEY — When one refugee here in Idaho, who wishes to remain anonymous for her safety, went back home to Iraq to retrieve her college transcripts, she wasn't sure if she would be able to get back home to see her husband and children.

"It was terrifying because at one moment I thought I couldn't see my kids again, so I kept crying for two days literally for two days," she said.

She had been in Iraq for three weeks when the U.S. implemented a travel ban to seven different countries, including Iraq.

At the time, she was not a U.S. citizen, and she feared not being let back into the country. After hearing about the travel ban, she immediately contacted Tara Wolfson, the Idaho Office of Refugees director.

"The phone call was from a mother like myself, so in knowing the fear of not being able to see your children or your husband and the truth was at the time, I didn't have answers. I didn't know how the policy was going to play out on the ground," Wolfson said.

Wolfson consulted some legal assistance, and after a more than 12-hour journey, the refugee was allowed back into the country. Her friends and family and even Wolfson greeted her at the airport.

"My friends here were very sad, but they welcomed me home with flowers. It was emotional, that moment when they welcomed me back," she said.

Wolfson says during the travel ban, they saw many families in Idaho affected by the policy change. They hope with the travel ban now lifted, more families will be able to reunite.

"So we're ready right now in a new chapter to all work together. More than ever with COVID-19 and the challenges we're facing, it's so important that everybody feels like they belong and that we do work together," Wolfson said.

The refugee in this story says the travel ban being lifted has provided hope for her and her friends and family.

"Now I feel the same feeling I had once I first arrived in the U.S., like the democracy and the freedom," she said.