Travel ban will impact local refugee resettlement organizations

Several families on the First Coast are dealing with the realities of a travel ban that becomes active on Thursday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville organization that does refugee resettlement says the Trump administration’s travel ban will cut the number of people they can serve in half.

In the past year alone, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) has helped more than 300 refugees resettle.

“They really have a necessity to find a way to survive,” said Cristina Parcell,  operations manager for international programs at Lutheran Social Services. “There’s either war, or because they’re being persecuted in some fashion.”

Ayad Shamsaldin works for LSS as a refugee resettlement case manager. He came to the United States nearly four years ago from Iraq.

While in Iraq, Shamsaldin served in the U.S. Army as an interpreter. He said it was a risky job that made him a target for terrorists.

“The price for our head was actually four times, if I remember, as much as the price was on American soldiers’ heads,” Shamsaldin said. “Because of the work that I did with the Army my family did get threat letters.”

Shamsaldin’s parents, brothers and their wives and children are still in Iraq. While Iraq is not one of the countries named in the travel ban, Shamsaldin thinks the ban’s effect will spread, making it more difficult for his family to get visas.

“I do miss my family and I want them to be here,” he said. “Especially [with] my dad having two strokes lately just very recently and he just hardly survived.”

Both Shamsaldin and Parcell said they were disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold portions of the travel ban, but also relieved to be out of limbo.

“It gives us a little more clarity as to the length of time that we have before we can hopefully begin welcoming refugees back,” Parcell said.

However, she worried the strict guidelines on who qualifies for visas under the ban could negatively impact families.

“You have children over there that have lost their parents in the war and you want these children to have an opportunity to be reconnected somehow with a family member,” Parcell said. “And that’s now been changed because the grandparents can’t [under the travel ban].”
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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