refugees

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.

Becca Schimmel

A Bowling Green refugee says his life has been turned upside down by President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Trump’s executive order bars travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Hayder Hadi, an Iraqi refugee living in Warren County, is worried about his wife, who lives in Iraq and has been hoping to come to the U.S. to live with her husband and two sons. Hadi says he doesn’t know what to tell his children about their mother's future.

“My sons ask me what we doing with the issue of mom? I tell them, 'I don’t know.' What we will doing in the future? Dad? What you will be doing? I don’t know, my sons,” Hadi said.

Hadi worked for the U.S. governmental nonprofit focused on bringing relief and development to vulnerable communities. He said he was threatened by terrorist organizations because of his work. According to Hadi, it was that high risk work that helped him gain refugee status and a new life in the U.S.

Wikimedia Commons

Days after President Donald Trump’s executive order relating to immigration and refugees, Kentucky’s elected officials are mostly silent on the issue.

Gov. Matt Bevin, Rep. Hal Rogers, Rep. Andy Barr, Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Brett Guthrie and Rep. James Comer haven’t responded to repeated requests for comment.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s press office declined to respond to an inquiry, pointing instead to his appearance on ABC’s This Week.

“The president has a lot of latitude to try to secure the country. And I’m not going to make a blanket criticism of this effort,” McConnell said. “However, I think it’s important to remember, as I said, that a lot of Muslims are our best sources in the war against terror.”

Western Kentucky University has identified 22 students and two faculty members who are from the countries impacted by President Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S.

The school issued a statement Monday saying it doesn’t know of any affected students or faculty members who are currently overseas or being prevented from re-entering the U.S.

Trump’s order barred travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

WKU says its advising students and employees from those seven countries to avoid leaving the U.S. while parts of the ban are still in place.

Ryland Barton

Kentuckians awaiting to reunite with loved ones fleeing war torn countries are among those affected by the immigration bans enacted by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

The state’s refugee community is nervous about the future.

Lodrige Mutabazi is a 32-year-old Congolese refugee and works at the Amazon shipping center in Lexington. He moved here a little over a year ago.

“I like this city of ours,” he says. “It’s a small city, but it’s 100 percent clean. And even the community where I stay, they say hi to me, I can talk to them anytime in case of advice or anything else. Actually it’s a good community to me.”

NPR

President Trump's executive order on immigration late Friday ignited nationwide protests — and a slew of legal challenges.

At least four federal judges across the country have blocked part of the order and temporarily ensured refugees and travelers who reached U.S. soil would not be deported.

Here's an explanation of what happened so far and what could come next.

Adam Hatcher

Students at Kentucky’s first international high school are preparing to finish their first semester. Gateway to Educational Opportunities International is located on Warren Central High School’s campus in Bowling Green.

About 65 percent of the school’s 180 students are refugees. Assistant Principal Adam Hatcher said some students know four or five languages, with most able to speak at least rudimentary English.

Kevin Willis

The director of the Bowling Green International Center says some in the community continue to express concern about President-elect Donald Trump’s policies towards immigrants.

Trump said during the presidential campaign that he’d round up and deport those who are in the country illegally. He’s since backed off that position and said he will focus on deporting those who have been charged with crimes.

International Center director Albert Mbanfu says that’s little comfort to many of the refugees he encounters. He says he’s telling local refugees that they can’t be rounded up and deported.

“There are so many of our refugee kids wondering if they are going to be sent back to the refugee camps. So we try as much as possible to alleviate their fears and to let them understand that they are legal, and there’s no way they will send them back to the refugee camps.”

Joe Corcoran

Nearly 100 refugee children from countries in Africa and Asia will be a lot more comfortable this winter thanks to the efforts of Bowling Green's Islamic Center and the International center.

Those two groups teamed up to provide a cold weather shopping trip at Wal Mart for the kids, most of whom have only been in this country less than three months and have never seen winter before. None speak English.

Families quickly filled shopping carts with shoes, boots, socks, gloves, scarves and pajamas Tuesday morning.

International Center of Kentucky Executive Director and CEO Albert Mbanfu laughed when he pictured the families seeing their first freeze or snowfall. "Many of them don't know what they're getting into, to be welcomed by winter," he said, "But they may not have to learn it too much the hard way since they're getting the warm clothing right now."

The kids came to Bowling Green with their families from Congo, Somalia, Bhutan, Burundi, Rwanda, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Some fled their war torn countries with little more than what they could carry.

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