Trump’s Ban Leaves Cincinnati Syrian Families Separated

Written By: Ishton W. Morton – February 9th, 2017

President Donald Trump took executive action Friday on curbing access visas and limiting refugees coming to the US. Titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” the action institutes what the President has called “extreme vetting” of immigrants.

On Friday night, February 3rd, 2017 President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program for four months and banning all immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days while his administration creates what it called “extreme vetting” measures. And Trump’s order bars all Syrians from entering the United States indefinitely.

Within hours, the ripple effects were widespread. Refugees from Iraq and foreign-born college students returning for second semester with green cards were among those detained at U.S. airports or prevented from getting on flights bound to the United States. Protests broke out at airports, critical of what the president called anti-terrorism measures. And in Cincinnati, recently arrived Syrian refugee families are likely to be separated from relatives they left behind for an unknown amount of time.

According to information received on Monday, February 6th, 2017 two families one from Turkey and the other from Nepal who were expected to arrive at Greater Cincinnati were left stranded as direct result of Trump’s refugee’s ban.

However, President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugee arrivals for four months might alter those plans.

Subsequently, as of Saturday evening, their sponsoring agency, The Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, had not learned if the families’ plans had been changed.

Nevertheless, according to Mr. Spicer who said; “Given that only cities that violate federal law will lose federal funds, and the City of Cincinnati has not and will not violate federal laws, the City is not in jeopardy of losing federal funds.”  

Also, Ted Bergh, chief executive of the Bond Hill-based agency had this to say; “We have not heard anything. We’ve heard that refugees have not been allowed to get off planes here. We’ve heard that they haven’t been allowed to board in Kenya or other countries in Africa.”

However, looking back to Wednesday, February 1st, 2017, the City Council of the City of Cincinnati passed a resolution declaring Cincinnati to be a Sanctuary City for the purpose of ensuring that the City remains a welcoming and inclusive city for all immigrants to live, work, or visit. In the same time frame, President Trump issued an executive order stating the Executive Branch’s intention to “ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.”

Subsequent to a Legal Opinion Issued by the City Solicitor Related to Federal Funds and President Trump’s Executive Order Being a Sanctuary City is not a violation of Federal law nor does being a Sanctuary City mean that City officials or law enforcement will conduct themselves in a manner contrary to federal law.

Additionally, The Cincinnati Police Department has been lauded time and time again by the Justice Department for excellence in policing and, though we have a great working relationship with our federal partners, it is their responsibility and not ours to enforce federal laws, including immigration.  Indeed, the Executive Order acknowledges this fact by (1) calling for the hiring of 10,000 additional Federal immigration enforcement officers to enforce Federal law and (2) allowing local law enforcement to opt in to enforcement of Federal immigration policies.

Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley

Accordingly the resolution as was written and adopted by this deliberative body  was non-binding and thus  cannot progress into a law. It is believed that the idea of a non-binding resolution was given to help discredit Cincinnati Mayor, John Cranley and as a whole disrupt the entire Cincinnati 2017 Mayoral Election.

This type of resolution is often used to express the body’s approval or disapproval of something that they cannot otherwise vote on, due to the matter being handled by another jurisdiction, or being protected by a constitution.

These resolutions offer a means for elected officials to publicly air the concerns of their constituents and are closely followed by major media outlets. Additionally, these resolutions can be used to state the position of the legislature, showing a preview of how they will vote on future legislation and budget allocations.

However, because the City is not in violation of President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration enforcement, there is no basis under law or under the Executive Order itself for withholding federal funding from the City of Cincinnati. The City’s resolution declaring itself a Sanctuary City is the exercise of constitutionally-protected free speech, which the City will defend as it seeks to uphold the fair and just application of the law within its boundaries.

Consequently, many people in the African American Community stand in favor of President Trump’s Executive Order. Ozie Davis III a lifelong resident of the Avondale Community, in Cincinnati, Ohio on a local radio station was extremely outraged that certain ethnic groups are living in Cincinnati and blamed them for the slumping in his construction company.

Ozie Davis III a lifelong resident of the Avondale Community, in Cincinnati, Ohio

Meanwhile, others are expressing some of the same sentiments. They have contended all of the street corner stores in their neighborhood are owned similarly by members of the same ethnic groups. It is believed that these business does not pay any taxes. Also, many have continued to believe these businesses are passed on to other family members in these groups after they have fully exhausted all tax incentives that are available to them. Most of the time owners of these stores are not residents of these communities.

Ironically, African American who are residents in these communities are not afforded the same opportunities. They believe that they are playing by a different set of rules.

Nevertheless, Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, an agency of the Cincinnati Catholic Archdiocese, has been the region’s primary sponsor of refugees for 40 years through its Refugee Resettlement Program. After bringing about 10,000 Vietnamese refugees here following the Vietnam War, the agency has resettled another 12,000 refugees to Greater Cincinnati.

In the past 15 months, the largest number of refugees has come here from Bhutan, the Republic of the Congo, Syria and Iraq.

Trump’s order bars for 60 days any kind of legal immigration from seven countries with close ties to terrorist organizations. Iran, Sudan and Syria comprise the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen are designated as “terrorist safe havens.” Many believes that there is much merit to Trump’s presupposition.

Similarly, The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati released a statement Saturday critical of the president’s actions. “The executive orders issued Friday and earlier this week by President Donald Trump require us to reaffirm basic values that we share with the great majority of Americans: Respect for diversity, pluralism, and religious freedom:,” it reads. “Although the executive orders do not explicitly mention Muslims or their faith, several provisions target Muslims. As such, they violate the principles embodied in the First Amendment and our country’s commitment to religious neutrality.”

Moreover, according to Ashraf Traboulsi of the local Syrian American Foundation and vice chair of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Township said more than 10 Syrian refugee families now reside in Greater Cincinnati.

Executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program for four months

Ashraf, a native of Syria and a U.S. citizen since 1995 have continued to say; “My immediate response is that this order penalizes victims for crimes of the perpetrators.”

Ashraf  added; “The people we’re targeting are victims or the Syrian regime and ISIS itself.  Also, the war in Syria has displaced millions, causing a refugee crisis in Europe in recent years. Additionally, several Syrian families living locally will remain divided under the Trump executive order. They were separated for incomplete paperwork or medical exams.

Subsequently, Ashraf added, since Oct. 1st, 2016, a total of 121 refugees have been brought to this area by the local Catholic Charities office, which had projected to resettle 450 individual refugees through Sept. 30th, 2016. Currently that, is a number it is unlikely to be met. However, approximately 10 to 15% of these individuals were expected to be Syrians and are working with Catholic Charities to assist Syrian refugee families.

Regardless, the Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, agency of the Cincinnati Catholic Archdiocese seems to be an organization that overwhelmingly inspired and driven by enormously high levels of hypocrisy. There is a statement that says; “Charity begins at Home!”

Therefore, these Charities should first take care of families and people that are close to them before worrying about others. I don’t think our church should worry so much about a foreign relief fund when the people in need are right here in our city. Charity begins at Home! If you really want to make the world a better place by being polite to your sister or brother, then “Charity begins at Home!”

Author: Ishton W. Morton

Formerly, Ishton W. Morton is an educator and promoter for community advocacy which includes creating programs and services, developing partnerships, and changing public policies, laws, and practices to improve the lifestyle of all people I’m still having an overwhelming desire to provide an Outreach Continuing Education process through this media.