Local Refugee Activists React To Immigration Ban

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban to the United States from seven majority Muslim nations is sparking outrage and causing concern for Memphis organizations who help refugees settle and acclimate in the Mid-South.

That includes the Refugee Empowerment Program, which helped thousands in the Mid-South in the last decade-and-a-half flee war-torn lands now under the travel ban.

Leaders with Refugee Empowerment Program believe this order will deny more than 100 refugees this year from the world's most violent and chaotic countries, families who want to build a better life in Memphis.

"I think we were heartbroken,” says Cam Echols-Blackmon, Executive Director of the Refugees Empowerment Program.

After President Trump signed the executive order, the word and worry spread fast, among refugees in Memphis who are from the very countries now under a temporary U.S. travel ban.

"I had a Muslim woman from Somalia come up to me yesterday and say, ‘Mrs. Cam, we want the same things that American families want for the children, we didn't just leave our countries because they were safe,’” says Echols-Blackmon.

We first showed the Refugee Empowerment Center in action in 2015. Now with President's Trump's order, refugee families waiting for years to welcome other family members to the bluff city will have to wait longer.

"That will halt bringing families together as units,” says Echols-Blackmon. The executive director believes the travel ban also gives a black eye to the U.S.’s long history of compassion for immigrants.

"It's not what Americans do. We are a country of hospitality,” says Echols-Blackmon.

Late Monday,  a spokesperson from World Relief Memphis said because of this refugee travel ban, they're now expecting only half of their goal of 325 new refugees by the end of 2017.

 


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