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Agencies serving refugees, immigrants condemn Trump immigration order

WBFO file photo

Local agencies who assist new arrivals to Buffalo from other parts of the world are joining the chorus of critics reacting to President Trump's recent executive order barring entry into the U.S. by people from a selection of nations that, according to the White House, are known terror breeding grounds.

Trump's ban includes Syrian refugees, whom advocates say are looking to escape the violence of an ongoing civil war rather than bring trouble into this country. Denying them a safe haven, refugee advocates say, is not only keeping the refugees in harm's way but also stands to worsen America's security rather than help it.

Eva Hassett, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo, is among those calling for no interruption of refugee placement.

"It's good for our our world stability, our national security agenda," she said. "It's good to help other people find safety because it allows democracy to spread throughout the world. We allow people to find refuge from people who are persecuting them."

Hassett suggests Trump's order may also threaten both the local and national economies. Immigrants, she noted, have played important roles in bringing new economic life to many neighborhoods within Buffalo. Continuing to welcome refugees from global trouble spots, she added, would also be good for the nation's business.

"Because it keeps our relationships strong with countries that we have trade relationships with," she explained.

Journey's End, which has helped Syrian refugees find a new home in Western New York, issued a written statement on its website. It reads, in part: "We are staunchly opposed to any change in the refugee resettlement program, which turns our backs on refugees from around the world at the very time when they are most in need of safety. Ending resettlement of Syrian refugees and narrowly preferencing religious minorities is religious discrimination and must be decried as such. This type of change sends the wrong message about who we are as a country, and our values as a people. Moreover, this religious discrimination will have actual, negative, and often life-threatening consequences for humans around the world. As we face the largest refugee crisis of our generation, it is more important than ever that the United States uphold its foundational values of hospitality and compassion by continuing to meet our national and international obligations to welcome and resettle refugees."

Hassett shared the sentiment that denying entry into the U.S. to people looking to escape violence in the nations identified by Trump's ban feeds the rhetoric that America is anti-Muslim.

"I don't believe America is," she said. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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