100 Days of Trump: The uncertainty facing Syrian refugees

Listen back as Newstalk's Richard Chambers talks to some of those most affected by America's immigration uncertainty

As US President Donald Trump nears his 100th day in office, the debate over what effect his presidency has had - both on the US and the wider world - is picking up pace.

Right up until April 29th, Newstalk reporter Richard Chambers will be stateside, travelling across the country to get a taste for just what is happening on the ground - and what it might mean for those of us watching around the world.

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning Richard took a look at the effect of one of President’s Trump’s most infamous moves, the signing of his travel ban executive order.

The order – which banned citizens of several Muslim majority from entering the US – was blocked not once but twice by US federal courts.

However the ban has had a major effect on Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in their homeland for a new start in the US.

Richard spoke to some of those that have been affected – as well as the people who are trying to keep them in the US.

Fleeing the Syrian war

One Syrian family Richard encountered – Ibrahim Almohammad, his wife and their four daughters – were due to fly from Jordan to the US just before the ban was announced.

For Mr Almohammad – who spoke to Richard through an interpreter – it was a difficult moment that has changed his life.

“I left because of the war,” he said. “There was no stability, there was no rest for us. It was a war zone.”

“The war forced us to stay in our house. You can’t go out to the doctor; there is just no normal life and on top of that we don’t know when that house is going to be on top of a warhead.”

He said the implementation of the travel ban was especially difficult – as he had no papers to stay in Jordan.

“It was very desperate for me and for my family because I was in a situation that I cannot stay in Jordan, America is banning the entry of refugees so I really was desperate, I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

“We escaped from terrorism. We know that America is a safe place; that is why we are here. We didn’t bring any terrorism with us.”

Providing sanctuary

The American refugee system is largely run through public/private partnership – with a heavy reliance on NGOs and church-based organisations to help those fleeing conflict and provide a welcome on arrival in the US.

One such church – St Michael’s Episcopalian Church outside of Austin, Texas – has made helping refugees a core element of their practice of Christianity.

The church’s Reverend Sherry Williams told Richard what it meant to them to be able to help Mr Almohammad and his family.

“They are four young girls under the age of 12, plus mom and dad,” she said. “They had been on planes for who knows how long, they were exhausted, somewhat comatose looking as they came down.”

“We had a group of 20 or 30 people that applauded as they appeared and they were just the kindest people one could imagine.

“For us it was a profound moment and of all the little good things we try to do in our lives, this is certainly one of the pinnacle moments of feeling like OK, so it was worth being born.”

Richard spoke to a host of people from both sides of the argument, for and against President Trump’s attempted executive order, and you can listen back to his report on the Pat Kenny Show below.

As he continues his journey southwards, you can tune in from tomorrow morning as he joins Newstalk Breakfast to discuss how local communities are getting to grips with Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

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