North Carolina Rep. David Price appeared sympathetic but powerless to help as he heard stories from refugee families at Smith Warehouse Monday afternoon.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday to temporarily halting immigration from seven predominantly-Muslim countries as well temporarily stopping refugee admissions. In response, Price—who is also a professor with tenure at the Sanford School of Public Policy—spoke with several refugees in the Raleigh-Durham area whose family members now may not be able to join them.
Although he expressed concern for the refugees he met with, Price was not able to articulate any specific actions that he could take to change the situation.
“We’re all trying to figure out what we can do and how we can help and how we can be most effective,” he said. “Right now there’s every cause for alarm and concern.”
During the event in Smith Warehouse, Price heard from a refugee from Afghanistan who said that her three-year-old child was still back home and would not be able to come to the United States due to the order. A refugee from the Central African Republic said that he had fled a war in his home country, but that his wife and children were still in the Central African Republic.
“Right now I’m stuck,” he said through a translator. “I don’t know what to do.”
After the meeting with the refugees, Price held a press conference in which he lashed out at Trump's actions, which he called “morally reprehensible” and badly implemented. Price singled out Trump’s inner circle of advisors for particular criticism.
“President’s Trump’s action shows the pitfalls of surrounding himself with amateur advisors, advisors who may be long on ideology but certainly are short on competence, short on experience, short on any sense of this country’s history and what we stand for,” Price said. “Amateur advisors who have no experience in government, no interest in making government work. They welcome the chaos.”
Although he did not name any advisor by name, his barbs appeared directed toward White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller, Trinity ‘07, who reportedly heavily involved with executive orders on immigration.
After Price spoke, Steve Rao, mayor pro-tempore of Morrisville, discussed the positive impact of refugees and said that he had heard concerns from his constituents about whether the executive order might be expanded to include more countries.
“There are a lot of other communities now concerned about this,” he said. “Where do we draw the line? Is it going to be Pakistan next? Is it going to be India? Rumors start spreading.”
Officials from a number of refugee resettlement organizations were also at the event.
Adam Clark, office director at World Relief Durham, said his organization had been expecting roughly 350 refugees this year, but that now none of those people would be able to enter the country. He encouraged people concerned with the situation to call their representatives and engage in other forms of civic activism.
“That’s not a token response right now,” he said. “Write letters to the editor. Get your professors to write op-eds. Get your pastors to write op-eds.”
Senior Adia Coley, who works with several campus organizations on refugee assistance, said she had heard a lot of concern in the refugee community over the past few months regarding potential future actions.
“Ever since the rhetoric started, it’s been hard and it’s been scary,” she said. “I have friends who don’t know if they’ll ever see their families again.”
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