Abilene refugee advocate talks effects of immigration executive order


ABILENE, Texas - The tension from President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries has put a dark cloud over the lives of some local families.

About 1,200 refugees currently live in Abilene, some of whom have been waiting a long time to see their loved ones.

"We have families that have been waiting for two years and are finally able to come to the U.S.," said Susanna Lubanga, resettlement director with the International Rescue Committee. "They're told four days prior to their departure [they're] actually not."

Lubanga says the most difficult part of working with the president's executive order was telling families they won't see their family anytime soon.

"It's heartbreaking. I don't know what to do to tell them," Lubanga said. "I was in tears [Sunday] thinking of the conversations we had to have. Especially this one mother, whose daughter is at such risk at a refugee camp where the women are raped daily, and having to tell her, 'Sorry there's nothing you can do to help your daughter.'"

Refugees from the seven countries under the order, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, may be indefinitely banned as the vetting process for refugees is reviewed.