The Refugees Of Capitol Hill: ‘I Don’t See The Protests. I Hear Them On The Radio’

An Afghan who fled the Taliban is on the hunt for a great job—even if it’s at the Trump Hotel

In January, President Trump sat at his desk in the Oval Office and signed an executive order attempting to curb the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States. Yet displaced people have long woven themselves into the very fabric of the neighborhoods surrounding the White House and Capitol Hill.* In this series called “The Refugees of Capitol Hill,” we share the stories, in their own words, of some of the refugees who have lived and experienced Washington, D.C., before and after the 2016 election, including an 81-year-old German refugee from World War II, the son of a Laotian refugee who has established a food delivery service featuring refugee chefs, and, below, a recent Afghan refugee fleeing the Taliban.

Nematullah Noori

33, Afghanistan

I come from Wardak Province in Afghanistan, near Kabul. I was working as an engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for eight years in different provinces. They were helping us to rebuild our country. But the Taliban and al-Qaeda were fighting with the U.S. Army and the Afghan government. It looked like the situation was getting worse and worse.

Because of that, my family and I decided we had to find a good place for ourselves to be safe. It was hard to make the decision. In 2014, I started my case to come to the USA with the Special Immigrant Visa program, available to Afghan and Iraqi nationals who assisted U.S. forces. I wanted to come to the Washington, D.C., area because I have a friend there. It took two years to get the visa. Normally, it takes eight to 12 months, but the passports for the kids took more time.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]The passports for the kids took more time.[/quote]

When the Trump ban came, at first people thought Afghans would be affected. But with the SIV, we’re under a different program. I finally came to America on March 1, 2017. We had a lot of help from Lutheran Social Services from the time we arrived at the airport. I didn’t know the procedure and was in contact with a friend to help me get out of the airport. He told me there was no need for anyone to come. Your case manager will be there. I really appreciate my case manager, Tannya.

My biggest fear then was that nothing would be right in my new house. But everything was perfect. The beds, carpets, desk. The food. All this was really enjoyable to me and I really appreciated it. Lutheran Social Services even helped us buy a computer with a low price. You need a laptop at home to apply for jobs.

The next morning, on March 2, we started seeing America. Our first day in Washington. I was a little surprised, seeing the people, seeing the roads. There are a lot of big differences, the level of traffic, the level of security. I saw a museum just for the airplanes.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]I don’t believe the fighting will stop in Afghanistan. I am not the only one to come to America in order to be secure.[/quote]

I don’t really see the protests in Washington. I hear more about them on the radio when I’m driving. I have also heard about the situation with the Russian interference in the American election.

When I look back to my country, I see the bad political situation. It’s really hard to see their situation and I remain worried about my family and people still in Afghanistan. Lots of other countries want to work and have benefits in our country, but not take care of our country. And there’s the issue of Pakistan supporting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. I hope to hear some things from Mr. Trump about taking care of Pakistan. If the United Nations and USA do not take care and bring pressure on Pakistan to stop assisting them, then the security situation is going to get worse and worse. Everyone back home wants to know what he will do. If this issue is not stopped, I don’t believe the fighting will stop in Afghanistan. I pray to Allah for security in Afghanistan. I am not the only one to come to America in order to be secure.

Here in Washington, I feel welcome. It’s a nice place, good place. My kids are in school, fifth grade, second grade, kindergarten, and the free one (2 years old). I found a mentor to help my wife learn English. And a mentor to tutor my kids after school. I hope to start work with a company. Lutheran Social Services has an employment service. The companies come to the office and interview. Many of my friends went to the Trump Hotel. I interviewed with a construction company as an engineer. Yesterday, I was tested for drugs—I hope to start working next week.


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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