PORTLAND, Ore. -- She wore a headscarf and a huge smile as she strolled through the gates into the terminal at Portland International Airport, ready to be welcomed to her new home in Oregon.
In an exclusive interview with KGW, 18-year-old Asial, from Somalia, expressed her gratitude.
"I'm saying thank you. American society is really amazing people," she said.
Among those who came to meet her was Abdir Irazak, another native of Somalia who feared the President Trump's travel ban would mean the end of refugees from his birth country.
"Somalia was one of the seven countries on the list,” said Irazak. “Ever since, we haven't received any Somali refugees coming here."
Somali refugee, 18, arrives in Oregon. Says this is a dream come true. Judges have not decided on Trump travel ban pic.twitter.com/fjcp9Gzr7Y— Dave Northfield (@DNorthfieldKGW) February 8, 2017
Also waiting to greet Asial was a team from Catholic Charities of Oregon, which has worked to resettle refugees in the U.S. since the 1940s. They arrange housing, food, and other essentials.
“This is one of the hopeful days,” said program manager Toc Soneoulay-Gillespie.
She said the work has been more stressful since the president’s temporary ban on immigrants and refugees from seven majority Muslim countries, which is being legally challenged in federal appeals court.
The Trump Administration has spoken of the need for more vetting of immigrants, but Soneoulay-Gillespie said Asial’s process took four years and included detailed background checks by five federal departments: State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
“When I hear vetting, I'm asking what other layer would there be?" Soneoulay-Gillespie asked.