New ban could threaten Reno refugees

Infographic by Nicole Skarlatos

Hadia Kalsoom’s immigration story is similar to many stories of immigrants who anxiously wait for years as their immigration visas are processed, unsure of what might await them in the United States once offered permanent residency.

Kalsoom waited three years before she and her four siblings were offered permanent residency in the U.S. Kalsoom and her family moved from Pakistan, her home for the last 19 years to Reno, Nevada last year.

Before coming to the U.S., Kalsoom heard from her fellow Pakistani people that Americans had a tendency to be rude and negative toward them. Those comments added to her unease about making the trip. Kalsoom was also expecting to pursue her Associates Degree in psychology, having to learn in a completely different language than she was used to.

Shortly after arriving in Reno, Kalsoom enrolled at Truckee Meadows Community College.

“I was excited and a little bit nervous,” Kalsoom said. “You spend 19 years in one culture and then suddenly you have to change your culture and learn a new language and all of this stuff. I was worried that maybe people wouldn’t like us and that maybe they would not respect us. After I got here and [I did have problems with the] culture and language, but I didn’t think that people were negative toward us at all like we were told in Pakistan.”

In recent years many immigrants have made Reno their home; Kalsam is but one. The Northern Nevada International Center has settled 63 refugees since Oct. 2016. Their goal was to resettle 75 to 100 refugees by Sept. 30, 2017, however, President Donald Trump’s travel ban put a halt on all operations to resettle refugees in Reno.

After Trump’s travel ban was put on hold in the courts, the NNIC resettled one refugee from Afghanistan.

Carina Black, Executive Director of the NNIC, said they expect the program may halt again after expectations that an executive order will be issued.

“Currently the program is temporarily on track, but tomorrow or Wednesday there is going to be a new executive order halting the program,” Black said. “That is the expectation by most people that he is just going to issue a new order to have the same effect. The expectation is that we will not be resettling any new refugees until further notice.”

According to CNN, the Trump administration is expecting to sign a revised executive order on immigration.

“The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision,” Trump said in a White House press conference last Thursday, referring to the court’s halting of the earlier version of the ban.

A source told CNN that the new order is likely to address religious discrimination issues by removing or modifying a section of the original order.

While Kalsoom made it to the U.S. before the travel ban ensued, she has heard the news and said she didn’t understand the point of the ban.

“Everyone has their own opinion, I think [Trump’s] is that [the ban] is right for the country. If it was really right for the country then I’d be all for it, but [the U.S.] is an immigrant country, so it is really weird banning people from coming in,” Kalsoom said.

According to CNN, those opposed to the original executive order are expected to raise issues with the upcoming ban.

David Leopold, an immigration attorney, told CNN that the fact that Trump administration is having to draft a new order is, “a clear admission by the Trump administration that the President directly violated immigration law and the Constitution when he issued a sweeping ban on Muslims and Syrian refugees.”

Black said the hope of the NNIC is that they can continue resettling refugees, but they are expecting to have to delay when the new executive order is issued.

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