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Locals Create New Fund to Support Refugees and Immigrants in Columbus

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Locals Create New Fund to Support Refugees and Immigrants in ColumbusPhoto via Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS).
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U.S. refugees and immigrants can breathe slightly easier now that President Donald Trump’s executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” has been temporarily suspended by a federal judge.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Trump Administration last week, claiming the executive order was separating families, harming thousands of residents, damaging the state’s economy and undermining their “sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees” — similar complaints sounded by cities and states across the country.

The temporary restraining order, granted by U.S. District Judge James Robart to prevent “irreparable harm” of the plaintiffs, applies nationwide and kills the core provisions of the order until the case can be heard in full. That means the 90-day, seven-country travel ban, 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and indefinite ban on Syrian refugees is on hiatus.

What this means for Columbus refugees, it’s uncertain. For now it seems the storm has passed, but until the case between Washington and the Trump Administration is decided, no one will know for sure what the situation for on-the-ground arrivals will be.

For Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS), the 18 refugees whose arrivals were cancelled during the travel ban are re-booking their flights. Beyond that, it remains to be seen how the President will impact the operations of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State, agencies that oversee and sign off on various stages of the refugee and immigration process.

“So, for example, if the Department of Homeland Security is instructed to stop doing interviews then the program grinds to a halt,” said CRIS Executive Director Angie Plummer in an email. “If DOS is instructed to depart only very few individuals, then the program grinds to a halt.”

As a result, CRIS will close its interpretation program and lay off a number of employees in their resettlement program. Trump’s limit of 50,000 refugees entering the United States will also affect funding for CRIS, a problem local Victoria Beckman looked to address when she created her You Caring fund for the organization.

“I have always had interest in these kind of causes, and I’ve looked into volunteering for this particular organization, but I kind of never found the time,” Beckman recalled. “Then, with the whole political situation, I decided I thought maybe it was one thing I could do.”

Sharing the link publicly earned her some backlash, with many questioning her priorities and accusing her of putting “immigrants over Americans.” Having immigrated from Colombia to the states herself, her fund Stand with Refugees has a personal connection.

Beckman moved to Arizona from Colombia on September 11, 2001 to work as an engineer for General Motors. Since then she ended up going to law school, becoming an attorney now working on transnational disputes and issues of foreign law. Feeling pressure to keep politics and work life separate, a fundraiser between friends and family was her way of contributing during a time of collective restlessness and anxiety.

With the help of 30 donors so far, they’ve raised $1,625 of their goal of $2,500.

For more information, visit http://www.crisohio.org.

To donate to Stand with Refugees, visit http://bit.ly/StandWithRefuGZ.

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