An Airport Story – March 2017
By Anne Bennett
Refugee Resettlement Team #2 members Anne, Joy, Marilyn, Nancy, and Seireth (ages 19-89) recently welcomed a young man from Afghanistan at the airport. After a 30+ hour flight from Kabul via Dubai to LAX, our exhausted gentleman finally emerged from US Immigration and Customs 6 hours after the plane landed. He entered the US on a SIV (Special Immigration Visa) granted to some who worked for US military in war areas. This recent arrival cooked for the military for 5 years and has a stack of certificates to prove his excellent work.
A few of his cousins at LAX were understandably nervous when a few hours had passed. When they arrived in US a few months ago, they emerged from US Customs processing in less than an hour. Yet their cousin was stuck in “secondary screening”. Our RRT#2 had an ACLU attorney and press “on call” just in case something went awry at the airport.
Our team witnessed four cousins tearfully reunited. Their faces were a mixture of shock and excitement, as they have had so many doubts along the way of ever seeing each other again. We spent about ten minutes saying “welcome” and hello, giving them the wrong bag of food in the excitement.
The Refugee Resettlement Team #2 members felt fortunate to have played a small part of this young man’s transition to his new life in California. Now the hard work begins: maneuvering immigration processes, finding affordable housing and meaningful employment for this talented young man who says he can “cook anything”.