“Mommy, don’t ever leave me,” Mushkaad Abdi said when reunited with her mother, Samira Dahir, Thursday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Since then, the Somali refugee mother and her 4-year-old daughter have been inseparable.
“I am very happy today,” Dahir said, fighting tears during a news conference Friday afternoon in Minneapolis. “My daughter is home after painful years.”
Mushkaad had to stay behind when her mother and two older sisters resettled three years ago. She was supposed to rejoin her family on Tuesday, but those plans were disrupted by President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees from entering the United States.
Sen. Al Franken said Thursday that he called U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly asking that the girl be allowed to join her mother. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office also pressed for the reunion.
“Not every child is going to have a senator calling for them and that’s what’s disturbing about this,” Klobuchar said during a phone interview Friday.
While it was a happy reunion, Dahir also said her case illustrated the struggle that refugee mothers face. She found out she was pregnant after her refugee status was approved. She had two choices: to add her child to the case, which could extend the process several more years, or to hand over her parenting responsibility to a friend in Uganda with the hope of sponsoring Mushkaad to the U.S. later.
“I can’t say it in words,” Dahir said with Mushkaad on her back. “I have been waiting [for] this for many, many years.”
Dahir thanked everyone who helped her bring her daughter home.
At one point she knelt behind the podium to console Mushkaad, who got emotional seeing her mother cry.
Mushkaad held her favorite doll while holding onto her mother. The two have stayed up all night cuddling and sharing stories.
Mushkaad, who speaks Somali, Kiswahili and English, pointed at the window saying, “Mommy snow. I want to play with the snow.”