Somali Muslim refugee in Utah concerned about family’s future

Jun 26, 2018, 6:30 PM | Updated: 8:57 pm


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On the same day the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries, Salt Lake City celebrated Immigrant Heritage Week.

Tuesday’s ruling left one Somali Muslim refugee feeling loved in Utah, yet concerned about the future of her family.

“I am a Somali refugee,” said Saida Dahir, addressing the crowd in a courtyard behind Eccles Theater downtown. “My country is one of those countries on the list.”

If the travel ban had existed 15 years ago, Saida would not be in Salt Lake City. She would not be on the threshold of high school graduation next year.

“I would still be in a refugee camp where I was born. I would never get the opportunities that I have now,” she told the crowd.

Saida came to Utah with her family when she was 3-years-old. She has since become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

“I remember nothing of my home, because when I was young I had to flee it,” she said.

There was no food, shelter, or safety in her homeland.

Upon hearing that the travel ban was upheld, she immediately feared that others in her family would never be able to come over to visit, or to live.

“I was honestly devastated,” she said. “It feels like my existence here is not wanted. I am a Somali Muslim American, and it feels like all of my identities are being attacked right now, and this is no longer my home.”

Last February, thousands showed up for the refugee march to the State Capitol in Salt Lake City to protest the travel ban.

Saida said she feels welcome in Salt Lake City, while under suspicion by the federal government.
“Whatever is happening in the administration really is one thing,” Saida said. “What’s happening in my city is a completely separate thing – full of unity, full of love and acceptance. I love it.”

“I’m grateful for everything my family went through to bring me and my siblings here because we got these opportunities,” she said.

She cherishes the opportunities she has enjoyed in Salt Lake that her parents and other relatives have not.

“To go to school. To have this education. To be able to just roam the streets without being afraid of being shot, or afraid of all of these horrible things that can happen,” she said. “It’s amazing to be here.”

Saida said she plans to graduate from high school next year. After that, she aspires to be a lawmaker, or maybe an immigration attorney.

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Somali Muslim refugee in Utah concerned about family’s future