Photo: Steve Nettnin

Nikki R.


25, Senior Project Coordinator at a Market Research Company
Detroit, Michigan

My grandma was born in present day Romania in what was then Austria-Hungary. She was a teenager when she had to leave in the mid-1940’s. World War II happened and the Nazis were invading, so they decided to flee. They boarded a train to Austria. She was in a refugee camp there for a couple years. In 1950, her parents put her on a ship by herself and she came to Ellis Island. Distant relatives who sponsored her were in Ohio, and the rest is history. Up until this point, I never considered by grandma to be a refugee. I never thought of myself being a descendant of a refugee. The label, refugee, only tells one part of the story of someone. That’s one of the most destructive things about the ban; it's putting people in small boxes which doesn’t let us see the potential of everything else that they are.

Why did your family come to the United States? My family came to the United States to find refuge. They didn't have a home and they were living in a refugee camp so there was nothing for them to go back to.

What would the U.S. be missing out on if you or your people were banned? Everyday good neighbors. My mom is as librarian and my aunt is a retired news reporter. My mom had four kids: an artist, a marketing researcher, a dietitian, and my brother was in the National Guard.