Last week, President Trump announced the expansion of the unjust and xenophobic Travel Ban policy. Effective February 22, new restrictions will apply to immigrants from Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. This expanded policy will forever impact families within the IINE community.
The International Institute is privileged to be part of the American side of immigrants’ and refugees’ journeys. Every day, people in our programs gain skills, establish roots in New England, and contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our communities. During the past five years, the International Institute has provided resettlement, education, employment, and legal services to more than 10,000 people — 677 of whom are from countries now affected by the travel ban.
We would venture to say we understand the people of these nations a little better than President Trump does.
People like Yayha, from Sudan, whose compelling story was featured by The Weather Channel for an in-depth article about how climate change is contributing to global migration.
People like Suleka, from Somalia, (a country included in the administration’s previous Travel Ban) who saw her siblings perish in war, but who survived and persevered. Today, she is a nurse who helps others in need.
And people like Muhammed and Hussein, from Myanmar, who escaped violence in their homeland and journeyed alone to the U.S. to establish a life in safety with the aim of reuniting with those they were forced to leave behind.
Like Muhammed and Hussein, the vast majority of refugees and immigrants arrive in the U.S. with the expectation that, someday, their family members will join them here. The consequence of this expanded Travel Ban policy means that many of these families may never reunite on U.S. soil.
The 677 people we know from these countries have endured persecution, war, violence, and famine. Today, they fill critical roles in education, healthcare, hospitality, and numerous other industries. They are parents, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. We admire their courage and optimism and we celebrate their contributions to their neighborhoods, offices, and classrooms. We know they play a significant part in driving our thriving New England economy and we think they deserve to be reunited with the family members they left behind.
Each day we work with individuals from nations affected by the Travel Ban whose families remain in their home countries or in refugee camps on the other side of the world. The expanded Travel Ban is a devastating blow to those who journeyed to America with the promise that, if they played by the rules, they could reunite with their loved ones. Through this cruel and unjust policy, President Trump is dividing families and breaking America’s promise of humanitarian assistance to the world’s most vulnerable people.
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