Border ban alarms American in Grates Cove
Courtney Howell sponsoring refugee family from Syria, a country impacted by president’s executive order
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.”
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.