refugees

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."

Lisa Autry

Some Kentucky businesses are placing their names on a growing national list of sanctuary restaurants. 

At least ten businesses in the commonwealth have declared themselves sanctuary restaurants, meaning they have zero tolerance racism, sexism, and xenophobia.  The designation also bans harassment against anyone based on their immigrant or refugee status. 

Home Café in Bowling Green has joined the movement.  Owner Josh Poling says restaurants can’t survive without immigrants, documented or undocumented.

Roxanne Scott

The social justice group Mijente is continuing its efforts to make Louisville a so-called sanctuary city.

The group delivered a petition with about 2,600 signatures to that effect to a mayor’s aide at Metro Hall on Monday morning.

Jesús Ibañez of the local chapter of Mijente — a Latinx-focused social justice group whose name translates to “my people” — says it’s time Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro Council join other cities across the country and give Louisville an official sanctuary city designation.

“Be compassionate as we know he is, as we know he has said before and help the undocumented community that’s scared,” he says. “They’re scared of Trump’s executive orders, they’re scared of the raids happening across the country.”

Becca Schimmel

Supporters of refugees and immigrants in Bowling Green hope a weekend unity walk and prayer vigil helps bring the community even closer together.

More than 500 people marched in downtown Bowling Green Saturday afternoon.

Many participants said they were especially excited since a U. S. District judge in Seattle ruled President Trump’s ban on travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries illegal just hours earlier.

Becca Schimmel

A Bowling Green refugee and business owner says comments made by a senior advisor to President Trump about a so-called “Bowling Green Massacre” are hurtful to him and other refugees.

Kellyanne Conway used the expression in an interview Thursday to describe the 2011 arrests of two Iraqi citizens in Bowling Green on terrorism charges.There were no deaths related to the case. Conway said Friday that she misspoke and meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists”, not “massacre.”

Wisam Asal, an Iraqi refugee living in Warren County, says the “massacre” comments cast Bowling Green in a negative light.

Adam Hatcher

It’s business as usual at Warren County’s International High School despite the news of President Trump’s travel ban.

Trump issued an executive order last week temporarily banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. Gateway to Educational Opportunities, or GEO, is an International school that is home to students from 25 different countries. More than half of those students are refugees.

Principal Mike Stevenson said students have been surprisingly quiet about the travel ban and they arrived at school Monday and treated it like any other day. Stevens is conscious of the effect the ban could have on international students and their relatives, but says he hasn’t felt the need to address the student body.

Roxanne Scott

Hundreds of people gathered downtown Louisville Tuesday outside the office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to voice their opposition to the executive orders signed by President Donald Trump regarding refugees and immigrants.

Some also complain that McConnell is not listening to their concerns. McConnell told ABC last weekend that he doesn’t want to make a blanket criticism of the policy, but the government should be careful going forward.

I went to the “No Ban! No Wall!” rally site outside the federal courthouse to talk to participants and some passers-by.

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