Idaho refugee reunites with his family


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A recent executive order signed by President Trump suspends a program that reunites families with relatives who have come to the U.S. as refugees.

One man who used that program says the day his wife and kids were able to join him in America was one of the best of his life.

“It was unbearable, but I didn’t have a choice. I have to do that.”

Dauda Balubwila, a refugee who fled war and torture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, got separated from his family for more than five years.

“To see kids with their parents, someone with his wife… it was so painful for me.”

Something as simple as watching TV as a family, was a scene he thought may never be reality again. But the waiting ended last summer.

A day he’ll never forget, August 2, 2016, he was finally reunited with his wife and kids. He says that day, he started living again.

“What I felt that day, it was very difficult… it was like I was– it was a dream. When I saw them, I was asking myself, it’s really them? I was so happy that day. It was the best day for me here in Boise.”

So how did Dauda get his family to Boise? He used a form called I-730.

Refugees use that form to get their spouses and kids under 21 to the U.S. to be with them. They can fill it out within the first two years of being in the states.

But a recent executive order signed by President Trump indefinitely suspended all I-730 applications.

“When a war happens, people flee. And they flee in all different directions. And sometimes one part of a family goes one way and another part of the family goes another way,” International Rescue Committee Executive Director Julianne Donnelly Tzul told KBOI.

“It’s not like there’s a lot of time to coordinate, plan and make choices all together.”

According to Tzul, a resettlement agency in Boise says she sees a lot of separated families. She says 37 I-730 applications were pending when that order was signed.

That’s 37 kids, and spouses who will remain separated from the ones they love.

Dauda got a phone call from a friend whose wife was on that pending list.

“It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense,” said Dauda.

He says that the man on the other end is just one of many refugees now left wondering when they can truly start living the new life they imagined, with their loved ones by their sides.

Without the I-730 form, refugees cannot get their families into the country until they become citizens. That takes at least five years.