Mobile, AL (WKRG) – With President Donald Trump’s immigration and travel ban on hold, for the time being, a lot of refugees are worried about what could be next. Mustafa Khamees is adjusting to life in America after years of running from persecution in Iraq then Syria.
“I used to be in a country where people died on the street and you have fear everywhere,” said Khamees. Mustafa and his family immigrated to the United States in 2013. When President Trump signed his executive orders on immigration weeks ago Mustafa says it made every refugee a little nervous.
“I feel mostly unfair, you can’t ban people based on their religion,” said Khamees. The orders are now on hold in federal court. While the wording doesn’t specifically ban Muslims from entering the United States, it did prohibit travel from seven majority Muslim nations. Iraq was on that list and in recent years a bulk of Alabama’s incoming refugees have been from Iraq.
“[Refugees in Mobile] feel this is something where we don’t know where it might head, if you’re from another nation, you’re already pretty vulnerable, you’re a guest here,” said the director of Friends of Internationals Jim Mather. His group works with foreign students at the University of South Alabama.
“The goal of refugees is not just safety, it’s creating a future and a seamless integration to our local society,” said Mather. Mustafa and Mather speak up for a very small community in the state. According to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement 290 refugees have come from one of the seven nations named in the travel ban. That 290 makes up nearly 60% of the total new refugee population coming to Alabama from 2012 to 2015.
Catholic Social Services in Mobile assists all refugees resettled in Alabama. Every refugee who comes to this state goes through Mobile in some way. A spokesman for the Mobile Archdiocese declined to make a comment for this story saying it’s a temporary order and that the federal government is responsible for the vetting process.