Dauda Sesay watched in horror 30 years ago as armed rebels in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war overran his hometown, rounded up five of his friends, and amputated their hands. His hand was under the blade next when his father ran in to plead for the boys’ lives, but the rebels killed him instead. Sesay escaped with a gunshot wound in his left leg and an injured right hand.
He spent 10 years in a Gambian refugee camp before coming to the United States as a refugee, becoming a citizen, founding the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants, and serving on the board of the advocacy group Refugee Congress.
“I would have preferred to stay or remain in my homeland,” Sesay told a panel of senators meeting Wednesday to examine the current state of the U.S. refugee program. “I had no other choice but to leave. The refugee program was my only hope.”
Refugee advocates like Sesay are asking the Biden administration to do more to rebuild the United States’ languishing refugee program. Despite Biden’s promises to the contrary, admissions have remained low and infrastructure necessary to boost refugee admissions has eroded.