Deborah Amos

Groups that resettle refugees in the United States are facing uncertainty, disarray and possible deep budget cuts as a result of President Trump's executive order on immigration, even after a California appeals court has temporarily halted enforcement.

Here's why:

The federal appeals court that blocked the president's travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim nations did not directly rule out two provisions in the executive order. Refugee resettlement agencies are scrambling to figure out what they will do if those provisions survive.

The Trump administration says it is suspending all refugee admissions to the United States until it can come up with a plan for "extreme vetting."

So what could that mean?

Refugees are already subjected to multiple interviews and a security vetting by nine U.S. law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies that check their backgrounds, social media activity and the reasons they fled their countries. The process usually takes 18 months or more, according to resettlement agencies.

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When Almothana Alhamoud, a 31-year-old Syrian data analyst, arrived in Chicago two years ago after fleeing the Syrian war, he jumped at his first job offer, a nightshift cashier at a convenience store.

"When I came over here I just want to find anything to survive," he says over dinner with his family in Chicago. His parents and two sisters fled Damascus six months after he did. The family has applied for asylum in the U.S.

Osama, a Syrian refugee who resettled five months ago in Princeton, N.J., did not sleep on election night after listening to the results.

"The whole world is affected by American elections," he said during an English lesson with his wife, Ghada, the next morning at their dining room table. The family, which still has relatives in Syria, has asked that it be identified by first names only.

Donald Trump's election has sent tremors through America's refugee advocate community, and caused fear and uncertainty among the most recently resettled refugees, the Syrians. They listened with alarm as candidate Trump called them "terrorists" and blamed them, incorrectly, for violent attacks in America.

Fadi al-Asmi has learned to adjust his Syrian pastries to American tastes at the City Steam Brewery café in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. "America, chocolate!" he says, as he adjusts his baseball cap and serves his latest chocolate-encrusted confection.

It's not the only thing he's learned since he and his family were catapulted into a new life after arriving as refugees in May.

On a bright spring afternoon this May, Tom Charles drove to Newark International Airport to pick up a family of Syrian refugees. Charles is an attorney and a bank consultant, devoted to data and details, but he had scant information on the family that would become part of his life for the next year.

He was also sure the Syrian family knew nothing about his team from Nassau Presbyterian Church, who would drive them from the airport to a donated house in Princeton, N.J.

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