Missouri Refugee Organizations Prepare for Changes

Jan 30, 2017

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President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order temporarily stopping the entry of citizens from seven countries into the United States.

This included refugees from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In 2015, over 1,400 refugees settled in Missouri, and around one-third are from those seven countries, according to a report by the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Missouri organizations who serve refugees are uncertain on how this executive order will affect work going forward.

Many refugees in Mid-Missouri come through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services. The organization helps to resettle them and find them a home in the area.

Case worker Nadeem Ramiydh primarily works with Arabic speakers in the organization, and says he has a very personal connection to his job: he is also a refugee. He came from Iraq with his wife and young son and started working with Catholic Charities six years ago. He said the staff is meeting this week to discuss the executive order’s impact.

“We have some refugees that are schedule to arrive this month, but we don’t know yet what is going to happen,” said Ramidyh. “Everyone is kind of itching their heads, they don’t know what to do.”

Others say they are confident that whatever happens with the executive order, Columbia will remain a place where refugees are welcome.

“The community has responded and continues to respond with generosity and kindness towards the refugees in Columbia,” said Barry Stoll, Executive Director of City of Refuge, a non-profit that connects refugees with jobs and community resources.

The current state of the executive order is unclear, as federal judges in five states ruled to block the order this past weekend.