PORTLAND, Ore. -- “My dream is just that my kids meet their father, like a normal family.”
Life for Esraa Alnabelsi has been anything but normal. She came to Portland from Syria in 2012 to visit her sister, an American citizen for more than 20 years. She was pregnant at the time, and looked forward to returning to Syria to be with her husband and have a family.
That’s when her dreams were destroyed. Her home in Syria was hit by several bombs, and destroyed by war. Her husband managed to escape the bombings alive. Esraa immediately applied for asylum.
Today, more than four years later, she is still awaiting a decision.
She’s had to be patient, because a lot has happened since she applied for asylum. Her children, twins, are now four years old. They are both American citizens. But her husband has never laid eyes on them. He’s never been able to hug his children. He has tried several times to come to the United States, and each time he has been denied. He’s been told he has to wait until his wife’s application for asylum is decided before he can set foot in America.
Esraa says being a single mom, separated from her husband, her family torn apart, is difficult.
“We just are very patient. To be in a country safe for our kids, that’s the important thing. Just for our kids to be in the right country and safe,” she said.
She is reaching out to Senator Ron Wyden’s office for help, and has also tried several times to get an answer from the asylum office in San Francisco. Her husband has fled Syria, and is now in an Emeritus state. But cannot get to America to see his children. Esraa says it is hard, year after year, not to know if you will granted refugee status. And year after year, having her family torn apart.
“If you just wait all these years, maybe you feel you can do something, because it’s very hard to spend all these years with nothing, no answers,” she said.