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My Economy: Refugee says America is still ‘the land of opportunity’

Patrick Ngalamulume, left, and his brother George Ngalamulume are refugees from Zambia who immigrated to the U.S. in 2008. Courtesy Patrick and George Ngalamulume

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President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration put new limits on the United States’ refugee program and barred entry for all refugees for 120 days.

Patrick Ngalamulume and his brother George came to the U.S. as refugees from Zambia in 2008 and are now students at the University of Idaho. Patrick told part of his family’s story for our series “My Economy”:

My name is Patrick Ngalamulume, and I’m planning on going to law school next semester, specializing in either human rights law, civil rights law or criminal law. I haven’t really figured it out yet.

The vetting process for refugees, you know, is a very excruciating process that a lot of people really don’t understand. You just don’t come here as a refugee. You have to go through this process that is hard at times.

You know, my parents never really had the opportunity of being educated. So my parents are custodians at schools in Boise. They do whatever it takes to provide for their families every single day. They’re hard workers… So essentially, I’m the first person who’s going to graduate from college in my family.

The job aspect of things here has been a lot easier to have, right now, compared to 2008, from when we were getting here. For my parents, that was a little tougher.

I mean, coming here has just given us a plethora of opportunities that we’ve taken advantage of and haven’t looked back since then.

This is why I have this strong belief that the United States is the ‘land of the free.’ You know, ‘land of the free and home of the brave.’ And the land of opportunity as well. You can accomplish whatever you want here in the United States.

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