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Pabitra Gurung, 30 and Jyoti Subba, 24, sit inside Subba’s hut in Beldangi refugee camp in southeastern Nepal.

Trump immigration order leaves Bhutan refugees in limbo

For many, plans to join families and start new lives in the US are in ruins

DEEPAK ADHIKARI, Contributing writer | Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan

BELDANGI, Nepal -- Just days away from a new life in the U.S. city of Atlanta, Hema Devi Chhetri had squeezed all her clothes -- and all of her parents' -- into three duffle bags. The 23-year-old Hindu refugee from Bhutan had quit her job as a teacher in a refugee camp in southeastern Nepal weeks earlier, and said goodbye to her colleagues after giving away most of her belongings.

She and her parents -- both in their 70s -- were set to leave the sprawling refugee camp on Feb. 3, after spending the last 23 years as stateless refugees driven out of Bhutan by a Buddhist-dominated government worried about a growing Hindu population. But instead of leaving the squalid camp behind them, they were forced to stay put after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program on Jan. 27.

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