International Center of Kentucky

Becca Schimmel

The Trump administration’s decision to lower the cap on refugees admitted into the U.S. is calling into question the future of refugee resettlement in Bowling Green. The administration announced Monday it’s reducing the refugee cap to a record low of 30,000. The International Center of Kentucky was planning to resettle about 400 refugees this year, but now it may not be able to bring in even half of that.  

The Bowling Green-based agency is a volunteer group that relies on federal funds to resettle refugees. With less refugees coming to Bowling Green, the International Center will have to cut back on staff and resources.

Becca Schimmel

Tougher federal guidelines on refugee resettlement are having a big impact on a southern Kentucky agency.

The Trump administration has cut the overall number of refugees allowed into the U.S., and has added increased layers of security that have drastically cut the number of refugees from majority-Muslim countries. The advocacy group Human Rights First says there’s been a 90 percent decline in the number of refugee Muslim admissions in the U.S. compared to the 2017 federal fiscal year.


Lisa Autry

Bowling Green resettled more refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over a recent three-month period than from any other country. The size of some of those Congolese families is presenting challenges when it comes to finding living arrangements.

Evelina Gevorgiyan is the refugee program manager at the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky. She said many of the Congolese refugees coming from Kentucky have large families, including one with 14 people. But many landlords will only allow two people per bedroom.

Diocese of Owensboro

The separation of children from their families at America’s southern border that created a tide of outrage was reversed by President Donald Trump’s executive order on Wednesday. The Catholic bishop in Owensboro said that separation of families was disturbing.

Bishop William Medley of the Diocese of Owensboro said while Kentucky may be far away from the Mexican border,  taking children from parents who are refugees created a humanitarian crisis that reflected on all Americans.

Kevin Willis

The leader of a Bowling Green-based refugee resettlement agency says his group is on pace to relocate less than half the number of refugees it was supposed to receive this fiscal year.

Albert Mbanfu, executive director of the International Center of Kentucky, said Thursday his agency was supposed to relocate 279 refugees during the current federal fiscal year that ends September 30.

But they’re on pace to only receive about 125 refugees during that time period.

Rhonda J Miller

South central Kentucky is expected to have 22,000 open jobs in the next five years. That’s going to intensify the current shortage of workers in the state - an issue that’s facing the entire country.

One Warren County company saw refugees arriving at the International Center in Bowling Green as the way to get ahead of the competition for quality employees. 


Lisa Autry

A refugee resettlement agency in Bowling Green is seeking private funds to educate refugees on reproductive health. There’s been an increase in refugees getting pregnant or needing help locating contraceptive resources and information.

The International Center of Kentucky says its clients need reproductive health education. Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said cultural differences are also contributing to the problem.

Mbanfu, a native of Cameroon, said having a lot of children is considered a blessing in many African cultures. He said it’s a challenge explaining to refugees the difference in how expensive it is to raise children in the U.S. compared to Africa.

Lisa Autry

A refugee resettlement agency in Bowling Green is reporting an uptick in donations.

The International Center of Kentucky has received more than $20,000 in donations since February.

 

Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said that’s an unprecedented level of giving. He said when President Trump issued a travel ban in January, resettlement agencies saw a drop in revenue.

 

“So we had to go out to the community to seek support. Here at the international center we went out and met with groups, churches, etc. They were so sympathetic,” Mbanfu said.

Rhonda J Miller

The Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky is not requesting any refugees from Syria for the next fiscal year. The center’s Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said Syrian refugees are not expected to be approved because the Trump administration considers them a "special concern."

Mbanfu said 40 Syrians were previously expected in Bowling Green, but that was halted by new federal guidelines.                 

“If I were to make a choice I would say Syrian refugees should be priority number one, taking into consideration what’s going on right now in Syria and the horrors that is going on there and the situation of the refugees in the refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,” said Mbanfu.

Kevin Willis

About forty refugee children living in Bowling Green are getting some help in preparing for the upcoming school year.

The Warren County-based International Center of Kentucky partnered with four community organizations to provide school supplies to the children.

One of those in line Thursday to get a backpack filled with supplies was 14-year-old Maya Nayab. She and her family arrived last week in Kentucky after fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan.

She says she’s looking forward to starting ninth grade classes next week.

“I think it’s going to be important for me and my life—the studies are most important. I love to study, so I’m going to complete my graduation as soon as possible,” said Nayab, who is one of ten family member who recently relocated in Bowling Green.

The other groups contributing to the school supply campaign are Starbucks, the WKU Store, Strawberry Fields Yoga, and Women’s Intercultural Café.

Kayla Luttrell, a case manager with the Bowling Green-based International Center of Bowling Green, says the children and their parents are grateful for the help.