Many people in Mayele Degaule Ngemba’s Congolese community in Cleveland have been waiting for family who were supposed to join them here — only to have their journeys put on hold.

The Trump administration’s slowdown in refugee admissions created a bottleneck in the application process. Ngemba described the past few years as a “nightmare.”

“So many of us, we came here as refugees, and still had families that are in the process, who we hoped are supposed to be joining, and couldn’t join due to some of the reckless orders that were made by the administration,” he said.

It’s been a problem not just for families who fled conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also for those affected by the now-lifted Trump ban on travel from some majority-Muslim countries.

In his four years as president, Donald Trump dramatically cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States. In October, the administration set a cap of 15,000 – the lowest limit since the refugee program began in 1980.

President Joe Biden has pledged to reverse that trend. But for that to happen, the U.S. refugee resettlement program will need to be put back together.

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