Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Travel ban prompts training sessions for Utah refugees

Published:Monday | April 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Salah Omar escaped war-torn Somalia around the age of five with his parents and siblings and spent a decade living in a Kenyan refugee camp. He finally found a welcoming home in Utah as a teenager in 2004.

More than a decade later, the 28-year-old father of four is now terrified that United States President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration will translate into his deportation to Somalia and separation from his US-born children.

Omar is among dozens of refugees and immigrants who have attended legal training sessions this month in Salt Lake City by a refugee advocacy group working to make sure they understand that most should not be affected by Trump's suspended executive order to freeze the US refugee programme.

"That would be the worst hurtful weapon somebody could use to hurt me, to take my kids away and separate me," said Omar, who worries that his application to renew his permanent US residency could be in jeopardy.




On Wednesday, the revised travel ban was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii who issued a longer-lasting order hours before it was set to take effect.

The Utah legal training sessions are among hundreds held across the US since Trump signed the executive order, said Betsy Fisher, policy director at The International Refugee Assistance Project, a New York-based group.

The six Utah training seminars for refugees and immigrants, led by lawyers offering their services free, are a first for the Asian Association of Utah's Refugee and Immigrant Center - and designed to ease uncertainty for the refugees who usually feel welcomed in Utah.