By Jaydn James, Ashley Ridge HS (Summerville, South Carolina)
Refugee and immigrant service manager for the Charleston and Columbia area in South Carolina, Lindsey LeDuc, said that her services have been doing resettlement since 1992, and the number of people to show up have been pretty decent since then, until this year, under the presidency of Donald Trump.
Last year, services in Columbia received around 239 individuals. This year, they’re on track for only 125.
“That number is a lot lower due to some of the political decisions made this past year,” LeDuc said. The presidency of Donald Trump has not really helped the community as much as hurt. During President Barack Obama’s years in office, he admitted 110,000 refugees into the US. But, if President Trump has an eight year term, it is estimated he would only bring in 50,000 refugees. Which reduces over half of the total refugees that entered under president Obama’s realm.
LeDuc said her services haven’t just had problems at the White House but at the state level as well. “Last year at the state level we had some anti-refugee bills that passed through the Senate, but we were able to defeat that bill at the house,” LeDuc said. “It was obvious that the bill was very much targeting refugee resettlement work.”
LeDuc said the bills were stating that refugees would have to register at the state making such information public such as their name, date of birth, address everything. Leduc says that year was very tough when it came to battling the bill.
Leduc definitely had to face the hard truth that year.
“Last year was definitely an eye-opening experience for me,” she said. “I didn’t know how many people had opinions on the other side.”
Most of those assumptions, LeDuc said, came from the news media coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis. She said many news consumers were incorrectly lumping all refugees — regardless of whether they were from Syria — together.
Other bumps in the road that are still trying to be repaired is the funding process. Some of the funding given to the refugees services are funneled through the state office, but at the end of the day, it is still coming from the federal government.
The Federal Government towards each refugee. But, that doesn’t mean the refugee services are all covered.
“At times like now, we are struggling more to make ends meet and we don’t have the same amount of funding.” LeDuc said. However, during that time, organizations and individuals also donated funds to provide for the program, and those funds are typically used for the client’s direct needs. LeDuc said refugee program is not at all a “money maker” for Lutheran Services Carolinas, but instead seen as a service to the refugee community. However, that further complicates the services because even when funding is completely full, it is hard to make ends meet.