© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trump immigration order spurs concern in local Muslim community

WBFO's Mike Desmond

In a mosque on Buffalo's West Side filled with immigrants - many recent immigrants - there is concern about what President Trump's executive order on immigration will do to them, their dreams and their families.

In recent years, hundreds of Muslim immigrants have come to Buffalo and become part of the range of immigrants who have turned around the West Side and made it a hot part of town for living and enjoying. Many of these are not entire families, as some immigrants have to wait for the long process of vetting to bring in parents or children or other members of an extended family.

Faizan Haq is a college teacher and founder of Western New York Muslims who has lived in the United States for 34 years. Haq told WBFO the immigration vetting process can often split a family.

"They check the backgrounds and they do an ASDA, your number comes, you are sent and you are given a visa, then you have to leave," he said. "Sometimes I have been told they are given 24 hours, 2-3 days and you have to leave right away and then they leave whoever's number is up, they come here and they wait for the rest of the families."

Now they worry if those family members will ever make it here or if visiting relatives will make it back to their native countries. Imam Ishmael Ayyash said the members of his mosque are drawing strength from protests around the country, calling it "great."

"We are part of that America, but when we see that the non-Muslim Americans, they support and they fight to speak up and it is very good," he says. "Why? Because we believe now there is many, many people they are fighting to keep the principle in this country high as it is and fighting for the freedom, fighting for the right things for the humanity."

At the same time, Ayyash said there are Trump supporters in local mosques.

"The business man," he said. "There are some of the business brothers here in this area, they were for Trump. When we asked them, 'Why?' They say, 'Because we believe he will bring the economy better than it was.' (laughter)"

The Masjid Aleiman mosque runs an active after-school program for kids, especially helping them with their English for school. Imam Ayyash says those kids have built their futures on being in Buffalo and staying here and the executive order worries his families.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Related Content