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11-year-old Somali girl reunites with family in Columbus after 8 year separation

10TV
Friday February 9, 2018


Sumaya, center, is pictured here with her sister Sarah (left) and mother Zahra (right).

COLUMBUS, Ohio -A family in Columbus is celebrating possibly the happiest moment of their lives.

They're reserved. They're soft-spoken while sitting in an upstairs conference room at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) building off East Dublin Granville Road.

The henna tattoos on their wrists are lightly faded, but they mark the celebration and homecoming of 11-year-old Sumaya Ahmed.

"It was a very happy moment and I cannot even express that feeling," Sumaya's mother, Zahra Ali, said.

Ali came to the United States from Somalia with her daughter, Sarah Ahmed, in 2014.

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10TV talked with Ali alongside Somali interpreter, Sowdo Mohamud.

"The reason we took [family] to America is because it's very diploma country," she said. "You get education, school and work and civil war back home is the reason everyone left."

Everything was here in the United States except Ali's daughter, Sumaya. Ali and Sarah Ahmed had been separated from Sumaya for eight years.

"It's really hard and scary, sometimes," Sarah said. "You don't know what she's going through, every day."

When they arrived in America, Ali filed for "following-to-join," which is a benefits program outlined in the Immigration Law to have Sumaya join her in the U. S.

Four years after filing and eight years after being face-to-face with her daughter, Sumaya, her mother and her sister are together.

These pictures capture the moments after Sumaya's plane touched down in Columbus, Saturday, and she landed in the warm embrace of family.

"I was very, very happy," Sumaya said.

All she says she wants to do now is be with her family and go to school.

During the interview, Sumaya became emotional. When asked the reason for her tears, she simply replied "Happiness."

It's a happiness the family knows not many immigrants will get.

"I feel like everyone should get a chance to be free and happy in this country," Sarah said.

According to CRIS, after a federal appeals court ruled against President Donald Trump's travel ban in December, which targeted 11 countries, 33 refugees have been admitted into the United States. Only seven Somalis have been allowed in and Sumaya is one of them.

CRIS expects about 21,000 immigrants to make it to the U. S. this year. That number is down from the 45,000 cap the Trump administration put in place last year. CRIS estimates 750 immigrants will come to Ohio.



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