Trump Presidency Concerns Capital Region Refugees, Immigrants

While some celebrate the election of Donald Trump, fear of what a Trump presidency may look like is spreading through many communities.

Campaign comments about mass deportations and a Muslim travel ban is causing serious concern for many immigrants and minorities.

Donald Trump outlined a series of priorities for his first 100 days in office in a campaign speech last month. Among them: removing 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country; suspending immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting can’t be done safely; and introducing legislation to begin construction of a wall on our southern border.  

Local Republican officials call the proposals reasonable. Leaders from an immigrant and refugee center in Albany see things differently.

“People’s worries are that they are going to be deported,” said Rifat Filkins, director of RISSE in Albany.

Trump’s decisive victory, for some, signals an uncertain future.

“Some refugees, they are asking me this morning, 'are we going to move to another country again?' So, they are kind of scared,” said Francis Sengabo, operations manager of RISSE.

Sengabo came to the United States from Rwanda in 2007.

“I had been in a refugee camp for 10 years in Tanzania,” said Sengabo.

Among RISSE clients, there is concern. Many of the families they serve are Muslim and fear discrimination.

“The main one is that many of them will not be able to practice their religion,” said Sengabo.

RISSE staff says the President-elect’s plan to block Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and suspend immigration from terror-prone parts of the world, where vetting can’t be done safely, could pose a problem.

“So people that are already here are scared that maybe their relative won’t be able to come here,” said Sengabo. 

“When they come over here and learn of such things, it is hard on them,” said Filkins.

Saratoga County Republican County Committee Chair Steve Bulger says Trump’s immigration policies are reasonable, but says Republicans can do more to make legal immigration easier.

“I think most people just want to be sure that whoever is coming into our country, A. they’re doing it legally, and B. they’ve been vetted to some degree,” said Bulger.

For now, RISSE leaders are working to comfort their clients and convince them “that they are going to be OK,” said Filkins.

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