The Chatter: Refugees in Louisville share concerns with Trump executive order, lawmaker wants to ban smoking at schools

01/28/2017 03:40 PM

Louisville refugees and advocates shared their concerns with President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily bars refugee resettlement in the U.S. as his administration develops new “extreme vetting” procedures in a report by The Courier-Journal.

Trump’s executive order also bans the acceptance of Syrian refugees for the time being, calling it “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and sets a 90-day moratorium on all immigration from seven “countries of concern” — Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The president has said Christian refugees will be given priority under the executive order.

The newspaper reported that dozens of refugees gathered for prayer at the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center in Louisville on Friday and expressed their concerns with Trump’s executive order.

From the report:

They said many were now cut off from ailing or impoverished family members who were trying to join them in the U.S. They told of relatives who had left camps and given away belongings to travel to the U.S. would be left in dire need. Others worried about what some called an atmosphere of “Islamophobia” for those already here.

“It is devastating,” said Abanur Saidi, chairman of the mosque who also works with refugees for Catholic Charities and who is among thousands of Somalis in the Louisville region. “These are people that don’t have anything to do with terrorism. They are victims of terror, that’s why they are leaving their country.”

Many of the state’s nearly 450 Syrian refugees resettled since 2011, who became the face of a larger debate about refugees and terrorism, have similar worries about being cut off from family members in refugee camps and scraping by in cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The war in Syria has killed more than 400,000 and forced more than 11 million people from their homes, fueling a massive refugee crisis is the Middle East and Europe. Syrians have been subject to high levels of vetting because of the presence of ISIS in that country.

“They shouldn’t close the gates,” Mohamad Alraghban, 30, who came 11 months ago to Louisville after fleeing Aleppo, where he lost a brother to government bombing, said last week.

Lawmaker proposes bill to ban smoking at schools

Smoking at schools and school-related events would be a thing of the past under legislation filed by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, according to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Senate Bill 78 would prohibit tobacco use on school property or at school functions starting in the 2018-19 school year, and Alvarado, a Winchester Republican who backed past efforts to ban indoor smoking, told the newspaper that he’s “optimistic that it will become law.”

The bill would require local school boards to formalize anti-tobacco policies and have school staff enforce them.

Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association that hasn’t taken a position on the bill, told the newspaper that “some superintendents have said they do not want to be tobacco police.”

Alvarado says he’s willing to negotiate with school officials, “but we will police every school district.”

“The goal is to see the reduction of the youth smoking rate in Kentucky,” he said in the report. “Most people who smoke start in their teen years because of peer pressure. They dramatically shorten their lifespan.”

WKU names new president

Western Kentucky University tapped University of Kansas Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni as its next president on Friday.

Caboni, a 47-year-old WKU alum who had been vice chancellor at KU since 2011, will replace WKU President Gary Ransdell when he retires July 1, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.

“It is a remarkable honor and a humbling opportunity to come back home to my alma mater to lead this remarkable institution,” Caboni said in a statement.


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