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Child refugees

child holds onto a fence that surrounds a refugee camp
User Jordi Bernabeu Farrús / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A small group of children fleeing violence in their home countries is stuck in limbo. They've been paired with American foster families, including some in Michigan.

But they can't come to the U.S. because of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, which affects people from six predominantly Muslim countries and temporarily bans all refugees. 

The children are part of the unaccompanied refugee minor program, which was created in the 1980s to help thousands of displaced children from Southeast Asia. 

United States Department of Education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As Michigan kids get settled into this new school year, there's one group that can use some extra support: children who are immigrants or refugees.

Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert.
CGFome MRE

The pace of refugees resettling in the state has picked up this summer, with more than 1,000 arriving in just the last couple months.

About half those were Syrian, according to the State Department, many of whom are coming to the Detroit area and Southeast Michigan.

In Grand Rapids, meanwhile, Samaritas refugee volunteer coordinator Troy Howley says they’re seeing a big increase in people from Congolese refugee camps.

May Anayi is an Iraqi refugee now working for St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a Lansing refugee
St. Vincent Catholic Charities

May Anayi was forced to flee her home in Baghdad after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. She’s a teacher. But her certificate is not valid in the United States.

She says finding a new career in Michigan seemed almost impossible. She had trouble just figuring out how to cross the street. She says she once stood for 15 minutes waiting for the crossing signal to change, not realizing she had to push a button first.

Tim Shields / Flickr

There's been a lot of talk about what to do with the surge of children from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And some are even coming to Michigan.

Oscar Dussan understands why these children are risking their lives to come to the U.S.

Dussan is the executive director of International Samaritan, an organization in Ann Arbor that provides programs and outreach to extremely impoverished communities across the world.

Dussan said impoverished children in Central America don’t really understand their circumstances until they reach ages 12 and 13. They really start to notice their surroundings and can become sad or even depressed.

They wear old clothes, and their culture and mannerisms are different. They are extremely impoverished, literally living in garbage dumps, chasing garbage trucks for food and resources, and are being attacked by rats. They also face extreme violence from gangs.

They flee north because ultimately, risking their lives here is better than living in their home countries.

*Listen to the full interview with Oscar Dussan above. 

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom