Bor­der ban alarms Amer­i­can in Grates Cove

Court­ney How­ell spon­sor­ing refugee fam­ily from Syria, a coun­try im­pacted by pres­i­dent’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

When elec­tors in the coun­try she was born and raised in elected Don­ald Trump as the next pres­i­dent, Court­ney How­ell be­came im­me­di­ately con­cerned about Amer­ica’s fu­ture.

So far, Trump’s de­ci­sions on what di­rec­tion to take the United States in have ex­ceeded her worst fears.

Amongst a slew of changes im­ple­mented since tak­ing his oath of of­fice, the four-month travel ban and in­def­i­nite im­mi­gra­tion ban on pass­port hold­ers from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries has at­tracted lots of at­ten­tion in the U.S. and else­where.

“Hon­estly, it all still seems un­be­liev­able,” How­ell told The Com­pass last week, on the phone from her home in Grates Cove. “I hon­estly can’t be­lieve this is where I’m from, that this is my coun­try. It doesn’t at all rep­re­sent how I feel about where I’m from.”

The im­mi­gra­tion ban hits close to home for Court­ney, and not only be­cause of her roots. Along with her hus­band Ter­rence and sev­eral oth­ers in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion area, she’s part of a group set to spon­sor a Syr­ian refugee fam­ily. Syria is among the coun­tries tar­geted in the pres­i­dent’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

“What he’s do­ing now, I know it doesn’t rep­re­sent the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans and what they feel is im­por­tant to them,” she said, adding that such a move made to pro­tect the safety of Amer­i­cans will have the ex­act op­po­site ef­fect over time.

“And un­for­tu­nately, what he’s do­ing will make me and all other Amer­i­cans and so many other peo­ple around the world more un­safe. It’s just ab­so­lutely un­nec­es­sary.”

She sus­pects tem­po­rar­ily halt­ing travel and ban­ning im­mi­gra­tion is part of a larger plan on the part of the pres­i­dent and his ad­vi­sors, though she has no idea what that might be.

While she wouldn’t mind be­ing back in Amer­ica to show her sup­port for the re­sis­tance move­ment protest­ing at air­ports and other sites, Court­ney feels there’s a role to play for ex­pats like her.

“What he’s do­ing in the state ob­vi­ously has global im­pacts, so I do feel like even though I’m not liv­ing there now that I can still be a part of a pos­i­tive re­sis­tance to the im­pact that this is hav­ing, be­cause I am here — this is where my life is.

“Hon­estly, I do feel guilty for not just in this re­spect, but for things that are hap­pen­ing in other part of the states and where I’m from in Louisiana. I do have that guilty feel­ing for not be­ing there. But I am con­scious of try­ing to do what I can from here and not just be si­lent.”

Anger in Amer­ica

The con­tro­ver­sial ex­ec­u­tive or­der has an­gered peo­ple on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum in Amer­ica. Court­ney ac­knowl­edges there are peo­ple out there who likely sup­ported Trump in the elec­tion and are now dis­heart­ened by what’s tran­spired. That said, she knows all too well the pres­i­dent has no short­age of sup­port­ers.

“I’m from South Louisiana, which is in a very con­ser­va­tive area, and I talk to my fam­ily and I still have Face­book friends from that area. And they hon­estly love him.”

Ques­tioned re­cently about the bor­der ban, Canada’s fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter has said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will stick with its orig­i­nal plan to ac­cept 40,000 refugees in 2017. Court­ney be­lieves Canada must con­tinue the spon­sor­ship pro­gram and con­sider in­creas­ing that fig­ure.

“Ul­ti­mately I think, the more im­mi­grants that a coun­try takes in, it’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to make the coun­try stronger,” she said. “When im­mi­grants, who come as cit­i­zens, come to a new coun­try, they come to build a new life and work in­cred­i­bly hard … It ul­ti­mately strength­ens your so­ci­ety. What Don­ald Trump is do­ing is the op­po­site.”

The How­ells held fundrais­ing events at their busi­ness Grates Cove Stu­dio over the last year and have a home ready to wel­come the refugee fam­ily. Court­ney re­cently re­ceived an up­date from the As­so­ci­a­tion for New Cana­di­ans in­di­cat­ing the process of ac­cept­ing new fam­i­lies is restart­ing now.

“We’re first on the list, so we’re just lit­er­ally wait­ing for an email,” she said. “We hope we can find out some­thing soon so we can let more peo­ple know specifics about the fam­ily and do what we can to wel­come them and help them tran­si­tion into a new place.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Court­ney How­ell, a na­tive of south­ern Louisiana who moved to New­found­land with her hus­band in 2009, is deeply alarmed by the United States re­cent crack­down on im­mi­gra­tion and travel for peo­ple in Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries. Court­ney is part of a group pre­par­ing to spon­sor a Syr­ian refugee fam­ily in Grates Cove.

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