A woman who says she was granted refugee status in the United States as a Bosniak-Turk Muslim fleeing Bosnia-Herzegovina took to Twitter today to tell her own story of what it's like to seek asylum in America. In a series of tweets, Arnesa B.K. (she goes by Arnessa on Twitter), 26, recounts the arduous, years-long process she and her family endured to be admitted to the United States as refugees in the early '90s.
When she was 12, Arnesa told me, her family fled their home in Sarajevo, then in the grips of war after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from the former Yugoslavia. Bosniak Muslims, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats were at war for four years, and during this time thousands of Bosniak Muslims were separated from their families and massacred.
"I am going to tell you guys the process of how I became an refugee admitted to the United States of American and how long it actually is," Arnesa tweeted. "But I'd like you to keep in mind that the process to admit Syrian refugees to the U.S.A is even more complex."
She talks about all the paperwork that's required to prove you are who you say you are:
A request that's made multiple times:
And then the detailed questioning:
And the cost of the process:
Finally, after about two years of paperwork and interviews with UN and government officials, Arnesa says her family was granted asylum:
Fast forwarding several years, Arnesa says her family finally found their place:
"If you lie or forget something or withholding any information, they will know and you won't be accepted," she concludes, in response to anyone who questions how we know if people really are genuine refugees.