Trump order puts Minnesota refugee resettlement in limbo
President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration could affect the resettlement of at least 39 refugees that are scheduled to arrive in Minnesota in the next month.
"They'll most likely be sent back to the refugee camps where they were."
"There's a lot that isn't clear right now, the details for on the ground," said Jane Graupman, the executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota, which resettles refugees.
President Donald Trump's order bars all refugees from entering the United States for four months, and indefinitely halts any from Syria. Trump said the ban is needed to keep out "radical Islamic terrorists." The order also includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen.
Graupman said her organization is currently helping resettle 15 refugees from Myanmar, the Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia. They were expected to arrive this week and she said they have gone through a two year vetting process. Graupman said the institute's staff has already set up homes for them with furniture and food.
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"For the moment we're expecting that these people will be in limbo."
"They'll most likely be sent back to the refugee camps where they were," said Graupman. "And unfortunately, when people leave camps they get rid of everything they have, so they'll have nothing to go back to."
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis reports it's expecting 24 refugees in Minnesota next month. Laurie Ohmann, a vice president with the organization, said 16 were due to arrive from Ethiopia and Kenya, and the others from Thailand and Burundi.
"All we have to go by at the moment is the 120 day ban," said Ohmann. "Obviously I think we're seeing how this is relating not only to refugees but others with tourist or other visas who are trying to come back to the United States. But for the moment we're expecting that these people will be in limbo."
"Even citizens have been calling me today asking if they should consider changing travel plans."
In Minneapolis, the phone has been buzzing all day for Jaylani Hussein, the director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Minnesota. He's hearing from people with concerns about family members who'd been slated to come over on asylum or green card.
"Even citizens have been calling me today asking if they should consider changing travel plans, and we've advised them against that," said Hussein. "There's a great deal of concern at this moment right now of individuals who identify themselves to be Muslims who feel they are targeted behind this latest presidential order."
"Jesus didn't ask a lot of litmus tests when he said to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry."
And at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Paul, the church was weeks away from sponsoring a refugee family.
Reverend David Colby said the church became interested after seeing the damage inflicted by the civil war in Syria. He said they felt it was the Christian thing to do — and asking a family's religion wasn't part of that equation.
"Jesus didn't ask a lot of litmus tests when he said to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry," said Colby. "So we have not looked at it as a matter of trying to fit a particular type of family. We're trying to provide support to people who are looking for a new life."
The order has been criticized by the state's congressional Democrats. The state's Republican representatives have yet to weigh in publicly.