refugees

flickr creative commons

Some refugees who have resettled in Kentucky are facing a challenge to their independence. Many refugees aren’t able to get their driver’s licenses because they don’t have access to an interpreter.

 

Court approved interpreters are allowed to assist refugees with the written portion of the test, but cannot be in the car to help during the driving exam.

 

Maria Koerner with The Kentucky Office of Refugees says this presents a challenge for refugees who have limited conversational English skills, especially if they’re nervous. She said state law currently prohibits a third person from being in the vehicle during the driving portion of the test.  

Becca Schimmel

Refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky are waiting for the official word on how many refugees will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. during the current fiscal year which began this week. President Trump is expected to set the cap at 45,000 refugees. That would be the lowest limit set since the Refugee Act was signed in 1980.

 

Maria Koerner with the Kentucky Office for Refugees said while the limit of 45,000 was expected, it’s still disheartening. She said a decline in the number of refugees allowed into the country has--and will continue to--negatively affect funding at refugee resettlement agencies around Kentucky. Koerner said nearly half the cases she works involve reuniting refugees with family members already in the U.S.

Becca Schimmel

Refugee resettlement agencies across Kentucky are waiting to hear how many refugees President Donald Trump will approve for the next federal fiscal year. The president has to make that determination by the end of September.

Maria Koerner with the Kentucky Office for Refugees said if the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. is further reduced, funding for refugee resettlement agencies will also decrease. She said anything impacting those agencies will negatively impact services and programs offered to refugees already in the U.S.

Becca Schimmel

President Trump’s call to cut legal immigration by half over ten years would have a significant impact on Kentucky’s economy. Immigrants and refugees in Kentucky are more likely to start their own business than native born Kentuckians.

Trump said the U.S. has a history of taking in too many low-skilled workers from other countries. Anna Baumann, with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a left leaning research institute, said a lot of skilled labor in Kentucky actually comes from immigration. Baumann noted one of every twenty immigrants in Kentucky is a small business owner.

Community Action of Southern Kentucky

President Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration by half and consider English language and job skills has set off a controversy about whether the nation is changing the welcoming message of the Statue of Liberty. The proposed immigration rules could affect businesses in Kentucky that face a shortage of entry- and mid-level workers.

When you talk to business owners in Kentucky, many say they have positions that are not filled because they can’t find enough people with the right skills, or willing to do the job. Some don’t arrive at work on time and some can’t pass the drug test.

Burundian Growers Find Roots In Louisville

Jul 31, 2017

On the 21 acres of grassy land that surround the barn-shaped Passionist Earth and Spirit Center, Joseph Kashamura is wearing red pants and black rubber boots. He’s watering intore, an eggplant native to Africa.

His day job is packing metals in boxes on Preston Highway. But every day when he’s done with work, he comes to the center off Newburg Road to work on an acre-sized patch of land.

Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

The Islamic Center in Bowling Green is sponsoring a first-of-its-kind Unity Festival Friday.

The Islamic Center hopes the event will bring local officials and the Muslim and refugee population closer together.

Backpacks and school supplies will be handed out to the 210 children expected to attend. The event is not open to the public, because the Islamic center is only providing supplies to the children expected to attend.

The Supreme Court says it will decide the fate of President Trump's revised travel ban, agreeing to hear arguments over immigration cases that were filed in federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland and allowing parts of the ban that has been on hold since March to take effect.

The justices removed the two lower courts' injunctions against the ban "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," narrowing the scope of those injunctions that had put the ban in limbo.

Becca Schimmel

An event celebrating refugees in Bowling Green will feature some new faces and voices this year. Up to 10 high school students will take the stage Saturday at World Refugee Day.

 

The students are from Geo International, a four year high school serving about 180 students from 25 different countries. Most of the students are refugees, or children of refugees. Several of the students will go on stage and share their personal stories.

 

Zaid Ali graduated from Geo this year, and is native of Iraq. He said he decided to participate for the first time because he has a message he wants to share.

Lisa Autry

A refugee resettlement agency in Bowling Green is reporting an uptick in donations.

The International Center of Kentucky has received more than $20,000 in donations since February.

 

Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said that’s an unprecedented level of giving. He said when President Trump issued a travel ban in January, resettlement agencies saw a drop in revenue.

 

“So we had to go out to the community to seek support. Here at the international center we went out and met with groups, churches, etc. They were so sympathetic,” Mbanfu said.

Becca Schimmel

Tuesday marked the end of the first year at Kentucky’s first stand-alone international high school, located in Bowling Green, a refugee resettlement area.

Shoes squeaked and laughter filled the small international high school, where the student body speaks about 30 different languages.

 

What used to be the annex of Warren Central High School is now home to Gateway to Educational Opportunities, or Geo International. The school serves 180 Warren County high school students from 24 different countries.

 


Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Forty young refugees in Owensboro will get jobs this summer thanks to a workforce training grant. The $45,000 grant is from the group Catholic Charities and is being administered through its Kentucky Office of Refugees.  

Karri Calhoun at Owensboro Community and Technical College is coordinator of the ‘Summer Refugee Youth Program.’ She says the project will begin with a newly-developed course called ‘The American Workplace.’            

“At the beginning of the summer, May 30 through June 2, we’re going to offer a course where we’re talking about employability skills, such as attitude, attendance, even small things such as clocking in and out, how to use public transportation and interviews.”

Rhonda J Miller

The Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky is not requesting any refugees from Syria for the next fiscal year. The center’s Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said Syrian refugees are not expected to be approved because the Trump administration considers them a "special concern."

Mbanfu said 40 Syrians were previously expected in Bowling Green, but that was halted by new federal guidelines.                 

“If I were to make a choice I would say Syrian refugees should be priority number one, taking into consideration what’s going on right now in Syria and the horrors that is going on there and the situation of the refugees in the refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,” said Mbanfu.

The head of the Warren County-based Kentucky International Center says President Trump’s revised travel ban doesn’t bring him much optimism. 

Albert Mbanfu says he still doesn’t expect Bowling Green to receive 40 Syrian refugees this year.

"The fact that the administration still looks at Syrian refugees as being in the highest level of risk, the vetting will probably take like forever," Mbanfu told WKU Public Radio.

The original ban barred Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely.  The revised order signed Monday no longer singles out displaced Syrians, but suspends the entire refugee program for four months to allow for a security review. 

Jacob Ryan

A Bowling Green immigration attorney says many undocumented immigrants in the region are asking if they’ll be impacted by President Trump’s recent executive orders.

Brett Reynolds says it’s a hard question to answer amid court challenges and a lack of consistency in messages coming from Washington.

He’s advising people in the country illegally to lay low for the time being.

"My advice would be to just stay the course, and stay under the radar. Don't call attention to yourself. Don't get a speeding ticket, don't get a DUI. Anything like that is going to put you at risk for being removed fairly expeditiously."

Pages