Former immigrants and refugees are tweeting about their personal experiences entering the U.S. after 30 governors announced that they are refusing to accept Syrian refugees.
“I am going to tell you guys the process of how I became an refugee admitted to the United States of American and how long it actually is,” Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura (@rnessa), wrote on Twitter.
Buljusmic-Kustura told ABC News she came to the U.S. from Bosnia in 2002, when she was 12 years old.
On Twitter, she noted that the relocation process was difficult, but nowhere near as complex as the challenges the Syrian refugees are currently facing.
She described applying for refugee status with a UN agency, where requires refugees to prove that they're displaced.
If you're displaced, you have to provide proof that you are displaced. That your house was bombed/burned or that there are squatters in it.— Arnessa (@Rrrrnessa) November 18, 2015
You have to provide them with names of ALL your family members, dead and alive. All your friends, neighbors, teachers. Everyone.— Arnessa (@Rrrrnessa) November 18, 2015
After that, she said, her family had several rounds of interviews, followed by a waiting period for their application to be approved.
Once her family’s application was approved, Buljusmic-Kustura described the screening process her family encountered when they landed in the U.S, which included additional interviews.
Buljusmic-Kustura and her family settled in Iowa, she said, where they had family. She tweeted that she graduated from college seven years after she arrived in the U.S. She is currently the founder and executive director of the Bosniak American Association of Iowa.
Soon after Buljusmic-Kustura posted her story, Laila Alawa, 24, followed suit. Alawa, whose mother is Danish and father is Syrian, was not a refugee. But she noted that, with a Syrian father, her family’s entry process was complicated, explaining that it took her family 10 years to get their green cards. She just became a citizen this year, one year after her parents.
It took 10 years before we were issued the green card (before was work visa, oops). That meant I could go to college with financial aid.— Laila Alawa (@lulainlife) November 18, 2015
We were subjected to countless background checks, tests, and asked to cross-check info about each other. Our FAMILY MEMBERS.— Laila Alawa (@lulainlife) November 18, 2015
We may not have been refugees, but being Syrian put us on a list with the US government. It held us back for years. Cost us thousands.— Laila Alawa (@lulainlife) November 18, 2015
The recent debate about accepting Syrian refugees “hit very close to home,” Alawa told ABC News.
Her family was deciding between settling in the U.S. or Australia. “We came because of the American dream,” she said.
In a phone call with reporters, a senior Obama administration official described the U.S. screening process for refugees. All refugees go through biographic screenings and fingerprinting. The biometric screenings are run through the FBI and Homeland Security.
All Syrian refugees have their files reviewed by refugee specialists at government headquarters, according to an Obama official.