President Donald Trump’s executive order to bar refugees from entering the United States will impact efforts to aid refugees in San Diego.
When signing the order Friday, Trump pledged it was to “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of the U.S. It bars all refugees from entering for four months and indefinitely halts any refugees from Syrian from entering the U.S.
In San Diego, one organization will feel the impact of the president’s actions right away.
Jewish Family Service of San Diego, a facility in Kearny Mesa, helps about 500 refugees each year. Most of the refugees who settle in San Diego are from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Now, the services provided by the facility to those refugees are in limbo.
“We pick up families at the airport, we bring them to an apartment that’s already been set up for them,” explained Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
Hopkins told NBC 7 on Friday that he thinks targeting refugees hailing from Muslim countries is not the way to go.
“Now many are worried whether they will ever be reunited with their brothers and sisters and family members,” he said.
Some locals, however, applaud Trump’s swift efforts to tighten the nation’s borders.
“My heart goes out to them [refugees], but we have poor children here too,” Santee resident Gloria Gomez told NBC 7, adding that the U.S. should now shift its focus to helping Americans first.
“I get real emotional. Why can’t we go downtown and do the same for our Vets?” she added.
Gomez said security should come first.
“How many in that group are ISIS men? Women, now, or even using kids?” she said, referring to refugees who have entered the U.S. in recent years.
But Hopkins disagrees.
“Because someone is born somewhere else and is fleeing persecution and trying to start a better life – [now] our borders are closed,” he said.
Although the refugee program will be suspended for now, Trump said he would make exceptions for Christian refugees from Syrian who are fleeing from persecution.