A group of terrorists burst into the medical clinic of Safa, an Iraqi physician, held him at gunpoint, and threatened to kill his wife, also a doctor, if he didn't shut down his practice immediately.
The two escaped to Syria in the dark of night and waited several years to be granted refugee status. Safa is now practicing medicine in the U.S.
Omar, a dentist in Baghdad, was shot in the head for not having his required ID with him.
He miraculously survived; he and his wife Hana are both now dentists in this country, after waiting more than two years for their status as refugees to be granted, and undergoing a long and grueling vetting process.
A refugee is anyone whose life was threatened, or who has a well-founded fear of persecution in the country of origin. The waiting time for the very small percentage of people who are successful was approximately two years, up until Trump made his latest declaration.
I volunteer with Middle Eastern physicians and dentist refugees, mostly Iraqis, helping them transfer their medical licenses to the U.S., and meet the tough requirements of returning to school here. Each has a story of surviving terror that would make you cry.
I personally worked with these refugees and many others.
Their stories are real; names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Many had to escape in the night to neighboring countries to save themselves and their families. In their home countries, they endured death threats, murder of family members, bombing of churches, mosques, hospitals and clinics.
Muslims were murdered for being the “wrong” sect. Seeing car bombings and dead bodies on the way to work was common.
Ahmed, a dentist, found the body of his dentist cousin on the roadside, covered with his lab coat.
Ali, a doctor, was forced to perform surgery at gunpoint, and would have been killed if the patient had not survived.
Fadia, an Afghani physician, was threatened with death by the Taliban for practicing medicine as a female. Now a U.S. Citizen, she is applying for her medical residency program here.
Kidnapping of medical personnel was rampant; the victim was usually murdered after the ransom was paid.
You and I have never suffered such atrocities, having to abandon our homes and families, and come to a new country with a radically different culture, language, alphabet, number system, and customs.
Yet, the professionals I volunteer with are among the dearest, most humble people I’ve ever met.
How can Trump justify closing our borders to refugees, forcing them to prolong this horror?
I could never support him or his devastating and dangerous acts of inhumanity.
Nancy SJ is semi-retired as a librarian and public information officer. At her last library, she launched an award-winning program that helps refugees prepare for application to U.S. medical and dental schools.
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