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Refugee Resettlement Agencies Wait For Official Word on Refugee Cap

Becca Schimmel

Refugee resettlement agencies in Kentucky are waiting for the official word on how many refugees will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. during the current fiscal year which began this week. 

President Trump is expected to set the cap at 45,000 refugees. That would be the lowest limit set since the Refugee Act was signed in 1980.

Maria Koerner with the Kentucky Office for Refugees said while the limit of 45,000 was expected, it’s still disheartening. She said a decline in the number of refugees allowed into the country has--and will continue to--negatively affect funding at refugee resettlement agencies around Kentucky. Koerner said nearly half the cases she works involve reuniting refugees with family members already in the U.S.

“The rhetoric around all of this sends a bad message to the communities that are already here,” Koerner said. “Wondering if they’re still welcome here, what will happen to their friends and families that are still overseas in refugee camps or who have fled their country. Will they be able to come?”

Koerner said refugees allowed into the U.S. are being given a chance to rebuild their lives and possibly become American citizens. She said that’s an amazing opportunity for individuals who are fleeing their native countries due to war, famine, or persecution.

Yetunde Adeyinka-Deleon is a Bowling Green resident who has family in Cuba. She says while she understands that President Trump wants to keep the country safe, reducing the amount of refugees allowed to resettle or banning people from certain countries is wrong.

“To stop these people from finding refuge and safety is almost cruel,” she said.  

Adeyinka-Deleon said refugees who’ve resettled in Bowling Green have added to the diversity of the community. She said the U.S. needs people who are different and who increase the country’s acceptance of diversity.

© 2017 WKU Public Radio

Becca Schimmel is a Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio. She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green.
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