Bashir Kashefi, his pregnant wife and their young daughter are celebrating their first Independence Day in the United States after arriving as refugees in March from Afghanistan. While they’re excited, they’re concerned that other refugees won’t be so lucky.
The family is marking July 4 as the country's doors temporarily close to some travelers under a partial reinstatement of President Trump's travel ban. Entry by people from six Muslim-majority countries will be limited to those who can show an established tie to a qualified person in the U.S. or an entity like a university or employer.
Entry by all refugees, meanwhile, has been suspended for 120 days. And that news haunts, Kashefi.
Kashefi served as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan for almost seven years. Once, the military mission ended in 2017 he and his family were targeted by the Taliban. They were granted refugee status and arrived in the U.S. with few resources. Kashefi said it was difficult at first.
"I was on the street for two days," he said, and so was his family.
Through Miry’s List, a nonprofit that connects refugees with help through social media, Kashefi was eventually able to get housing and a job. The family now lives in a small, sparsely furnished apartment in Anaheim and Kashefi works as a car dealer.
Money is still an issue, but he says they feel much more secure in the U.S. than in Afghanistan. The challenges here pale in comparison to the violence and fear he used to experience, he said.
“A good protection is here. Life is better here. Life is safe in the United States,” Kashefi said.
Still, when he heard about the travel ban's reinstatement, it brought back the stress and anxiety he felt in Afghanistan, and it raised concerns that other refugees will be shut out of the U.S.
“Every day is fighting, everyday people killing, but they do not have access to come here,” he laments.
The state of Hawaii filed a challenge Thursday to the latest travel ban and other lawsuits are expected. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in challenges to the Trump travel ban policy in October.
Trump cited national security in imposing the travel limits initially in January; the targeted countries, he said, serve as havens for terrorists.
Kashefi hopes the U.S. will reconsider the policy. He thinks if it took in more refugees, it could serve as a point of pride for his adopted country. "This is home. This is my country," he said.