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‘A Lot of Questions, Over and Over Again’ — A Look at One Maine Refugee’s Vetting Process

A market at the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Uganda, where Charles spent almost half his life. Photo by N. Omata / Refugee Studies Center

The number of refugees, asylum seekers and other foreign-born people who settled in Maine last year was the largest in recent years.

As President Donald Trump prepares a new effort to restrict immigration — possibly to include what he calls “extreme vetting” of refugees from some countries — we wanted to learn a bit about how refugees are screened and processed before being resettled here. This is the account of one refugee who came here from Africa this past September.

When Charles fled the ethnic violence that killed his parents in his native city of Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was around 11 or 12 years old — he doesn’t remember exactly. Now 20, he spent almost half his life in the teeming Kyangwali refugee camp in Uganda.

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