LEWISTON — Samira Aden, 12, a Lewiston Middle School seventh-grader, was looking forward to seeing her grandmother this spring.

“I haven’t met her yet,” Samira said.

For the past 24 years her grandmother, Isha Varsame, a native of Somalia, has lived in a refugee camp in Kenya. Aden has talked on the phone with her.

“She was really nice,” Samira said.

Samira is now worried that President Donald Trump’s immigration ban means she won’t meet her grandmother, that she won’t be able to join the family in Lewiston.

“It’s upsetting,” Samira said.


Her friends have been affected, too. “Their aunts and uncles were supposed to come over. Now they can’t.”

Jama Mohamed, Samira’s father, said his mother has worked for years on getting approval to emigrate to the United States.

“She’s been through all the process, her DNA checked, her visa.” She was close to getting final approval, Mohamed said.

“I’m concerned,” he said. “There’s no hope. My kids were really excited. Now they say, ‘Daddy, no grandma again? So what are we going to do?’”

He saw his mother in May when he traveled to Kenya. “She was very happy to see me,” he said, showing a photo of him and his mother.

The immigration ban is shocking, he said. The Somali community is so upset that it’s hard to talk about it, he said.


One of his friends, Mohamed Garana, 26, has been in a refugee camp in Kenya all of his life. He was cleared to travel to the United States; he was to fly from Nairobi on Monday.

“But when he went to the airport, they told him, sorry, the flight was canceled. He was supposed to fly last night,” Mohamed said.

He said his friend had worked 10 years on getting approved.

“I just talked to him,” Mohamed said. “We could not even continue our discussion. He was too hurt, too upset. It feels like there’s no hope.”

Abdikadir Negeye, human resources director for Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, said what Trump did is embarrassing to the country.

His sister, Isnino Mohamed, and his cousin, Olad Mohamed, are in Kenyan refugee camps.


His cousin was cleared to come to the United States.

“He was supposed to come Feb. 12,” Negeye said. “He had gone through a lot of intensive screening.”

Getting approval to come to the United States takes years, he said.

Rilwan Osman, executive director of Maine Immigration and Refugee Services in Lewiston, said he has been many calls from immigrants.

“The ban caused a lot of uncertainty in the community,” he wrote in an email. “Our agency gets calls and people come ask us about what is going to happen. Are we safe? Are we going to be deported? Does this mean our family cannot come here anymore?”

The ban, if not lifted, means many family members, spouses, mothers, brothers, won’t be reunited, Negeye said.


Many from Somali families have been waiting a long time to come to the United States, he said. “It’s killing their hope.”

Fatuma Mohamed, a student at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, is separated from her husband who lives in a refugee camp in Kenya, where the two married in 2013. He has applied for immigration and they were told he’d probably be approved and be able to come to Lewiston in 2017, she said.

“Now everything is closed,” she said. “What I believe now is he’s not going to come here,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with my life. My husband won’t be here.”

That, she said, “really hurts.”

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