Chicago Sun-Times

Im­mi­grants: Trump out ‘ to divide us’

Those al­ready in the U. S. are shaken by fears about the future

- Brian Sharp, Justin Mur­phy, Chris Ken­ning and Daniel Gon­za­lez

“We are hop­ing they will do many other great things to peo­ple who are hurt­ing, the peo­ple who are dy­ing for no rea­son, to peo­ple who don’t have a life.” Ibado Mah­mud, a refugee who fled a So­mali civil war in 1993

The na­tion’s im­mi­grants watched in trep­i­da­tion Satur­day as Pres­i­dent Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion ban went into ef­fect with abrupt re­sults. His ex­ec­u­tive order tem­po­rar­ily ban­ning all refugees — plus more spe­cific re­stric­tions on pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries — drew le­gal ac­tion, protests and out­rage on so­cial me­dia as trav­el­ers were stopped from board­ing U. S.- bound planes and de­tained at air­ports. In parts of Ari­zona, New York and Ken­tucky, some im­mi­grants al­ready in the coun­try were en­veloped in feel­ings of fear and un­cer­tainty.

PHOENIX

IBADO MAH­MUD Ibado Mah­mud came to the United States as a refugee in 1993 af­ter flee­ing the civil war in her na­tive So­ma­lia and spend­ing more than two years liv­ing in a refugee camp in neigh­bor­ing Kenya.

To­day, she is one of 7,193 So­mali refugees re­set­tled in Ari­zona since 1992. It’s a far cry from her old life. She re­calls flee­ing So­ma­lia with her hus­band and two young daugh­ters in De­cem­ber 1990 and then driv­ing to Kenya with a car­a­van of nearly 50 other refugees. She saw peo­ple die and get raped.

“You heard the li­ons roar­ing ev­ery night,” she said. “I used to wrap me and my two girls in long clothes so if the lion came, he would have to eat all three of us.

Since com­ing to the U. S., Mah­mud has re­built her life in Ari­zona and raised seven chil­dren. She owns her house and for the past 17 years has worked at Phoenix Sky Har­bor In­ter­na­tional Air­port, along­side refugees from Iraq, Eritrea, Libya, Su­dan, Ethiopia and many other coun­tries.

But Mah­mud worries that other refugees will not get the same chance be­cause of Trump’s de­ci­sion Fri­day.

“A lot of peo­ple are grate­ful to be here, to be part of this coun­try. We ap­pre­ci­ate what the United States did for us,” the 56year- old said. “We are hop­ing they will do many other great things to peo­ple who are hurt­ing, the peo­ple who are dy­ing for no rea­son, to peo­ple who don’t have a life.”

Mah­mud said she has felt wel­come in the U. S. but worries Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders could lead to dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lims like her.

“What I am scared of is that he is going to divide us,” she said.

LOUISVILLE

MASJID BILAL IS­LAMIC CEN­TER At the Masjid Bilal Is­lamic Cen­ter in West Louisville, dozens of refugees from So­ma­lia, Syria and Iraq gath­ered Fri­day af­ter­noon for prayers. They said many were now cut off from ail­ing or im­pov­er­ished fam­ily mem­bers who were try­ing to join them in the U. S., and some wor­ried about an at­mos­phere of “Is­lam­o­pho­bia.” ” Ad­vo­cates were or­ga­niz­ing ral­lies of sup­port.

“It is dev­as­tat­ing,” said Aba­nur Saidi, chair­man of the mosque who also works with refugees for Catholic Char­i­ties and who is among thou­sands of So­ma­lis in the Louisville re­gion. “These are peo­ple that don’t have any­thing to do with ter­ror­ism. They are vic­tims of ter­ror, that’s why they are leav­ing their coun­try.”

Oth­ers said they wor­ried the Trump di­rec­tive would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“This pol­icy seems to be di­rected at the Mus­lims — and I’m re­ally con­cerned that this de­ci­sion will strengthen ter­ror­ists and ex­trem­ist groups, they will have more ma­te­rial to brain­wash peo­ple that Amer­ica is against Is­lam,” said Mo­ham­mad Babar, a Mus­lim leader in Louisville.

Those at the Bilal mosque Fri­day were sign­ing a pe­ti­tion or­ga­nized by a coali­tion of refugee groups seek­ing to get 10,000 sig­na­tures be­fore a planned rally next month. Lead­ers are urg­ing sup­port­ers to write let­ters to law­mak­ers.

“Our pres­i­dent is try­ing to divide us,” said Farhan Abdi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mus­lim Amer­i­cans for Com­pas­sion. He said refugees and im­mi­grants are “doc­tors, teach­ers, lawyers, busi­ness own­ers, fac­tory work­ers” who will “keep fight­ing to keep Amer­ica wel­com­ing.”

ROCHESTER, N. Y.

CHARLOTTE GOSSO Charlotte Gosso came to Rochester in De­cem­ber from the Ivory Coast via a refugee camp in Ghana; she was the first Côte d’ Ivoirian refugee here. Her prayers go to her coun­try and her rel­a­tives there, the only ones she has.

There are only a hand­ful of Ivoiri­ans in Rochester, and it seems un­likely more will be ar­riv­ing.

Gosso thinks of a woman she knew in the refugee camp in Ghana. It would take Gosso up to three days to travel to Ac­cra, the cap­i­tal, for bu­reau­cratic mat­ters, and there was no one to watch her sons while she was gone. The woman would help her, and give her some rice when she needed it to feed her sons.

The woman and her hus­band would like to come to the U. S., and Gosso would wel­come them. She speaks only French and is con­fined to her apart­ment un­less some­one helps her with her 22- year- old dis­abled son, who is re­stricted to his bed.

Lisa Hoyt, di­rec­tor of the Catholic Fam­ily Cen­ter’s Refugee, Im­mi­gra­tion & Lan­guage Ser­vices Depart­ment, de­scribed an­other case. A mother and seven chil­dren were sup­posed to ar­rive in Rochester on Tues­day. The fam­ily is So­mali but is liv­ing in a refugee camp in Kenya. The old­est child is 19. The youngest is 2.

Their new life here is wait­ing. But some­one in the group got sick, post­pon­ing their travel. “Think about what’s hap­pened,” she said. “These peo­ple lit­er­ally could have missed this op­por­tu­nity ... through no fault of their own.”

 ?? SHAWN DOWD, ( ROCHESTER, N. Y.) DEMO­CRAT AND CHRON­I­CLE ?? Charlotte Gosso lives with her sons, Guy, 22, and Ephraim, 10, in a small apart­ment in Rochester, N. Y.
SHAWN DOWD, ( ROCHESTER, N. Y.) DEMO­CRAT AND CHRON­I­CLE Charlotte Gosso lives with her sons, Guy, 22, and Ephraim, 10, in a small apart­ment in Rochester, N. Y.
 ?? THE ARI­ZONA RE­PUB­LIC ??
THE ARI­ZONA RE­PUB­LIC

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