Revised Travel Ban and Amarillo’s Refugees

The Trump Administration’s revised travel ban went into effect last night. This temporary travel restriction prevents certain foreign nationals from entering the USA if they cannot prove they have a bona fide relationship with a school or job, or with a narrowly-defined list of close relatives. The restriction applies to residents of Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, and Somalia—banning them for 90 days.

You may be wondering how the travel ban impacts our project. If new refugees aren’t coming, does this negate our mission? Absolutely not! Here’s why…

  1. Refugees come to Amarillo from many countries not affected by the ban. For example, Amarillo receives more refugees from Myanmar than just about anywhere else.
  2. The greatest numbers of incoming refugees are actually secondary migrations. These are families who relocate to Amarillo after already being resettled into another American city. They come to join family members or to find jobs here. Nothing is preventing these secondary migrants from arriving.
  3. Our main focus is not necessarily new immigrants. Our focus is the thousands of refugees who have come within the last 20 years, who have spent countless hours in local English classes, and who still can’t communicate with their neighbors. We have a heart to help these people heal and thrive. We do this by giving them a voice, by giving them the words they need to express themselves.

We have a heart to help these people heal and thrive. We do this by giving them a voice, by giving them the words they need to express themselves.

Nonetheless, the ban does affect our city. After all, many refugees have been coming here from Iran, Sudan, and Somalia. As fewer refugees come through official channels such as Refugee Services of Texas, funding for these services dries up as well. Thus, when fewer new placements are allowed, non-profit organizations are less able to provide their regular services—such as daily English classes. Fewer refugees actually leads to fewer services, increasing our city’s need for what we offer.

Fewer refugees actually leads to fewer services, increasing our city’s need for what we offer.

Consider getting involved. We’re making big plans, and you can participate through giving or even joining us at a planning meeting.

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