DNC video

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to reinforce the nation’s refugee resettlement efforts after a dramatic decrease in admissions under President Trump. A Bowling Green-based refugee resettlement agency is hoping to help many more people once Biden becomes president.

Biden wants to set the refugee admission’s cap to 125,000 and then gradually increase that number over time. Under the Obama administration, 110,000 refugees were allowed to resettle. The Trump administration cut admissions to 15,000, the lowest number of refugees coming into the U.S. on record.

Albert Mbanfu, the executive director of the International Center in Bowling Green, said while Biden’s plan is promising, it won’t have an immediate impact. He said due to the limited number of refugees currently being allowed into the country, the resettlement process has slowed drastically.

Ileana Gaynor

Schools across Kentucky are shut down for the remainder of the academic year because of COVID-19, and most students are adapting to virtual learning.

But students who were already struggling, or have English as a second or third language, are at-risk for falling behind. 

Educators in Owensboro Public Schools, like teachers across the nation, are increasing communication to keep at-risk students engaged.

Estes Elementary in Owensboro, which has students in preschool through 5th grade, has about 100 "English Learners." Those students are dealing with the combined challenges of language and the loss of in-person instruction in the classroom.

Becca Schimmel

Bowling Green is home to residents from dozens of countries, and schools where students speak about 90 different languages. One of the biggest challenges facing members of the city’s international community is the language barrier.

That can be especially true in the areas of healthcare and housing. 

Navigating the many obstacles of finding a place to live in Bowling Green can be difficult enough for someone who’s a native of the area. Now imagine the challenges faced by someone who struggles to speak English. 


On Monday in Louisville, a panel of immigration experts will discuss the anti-sanctuary cities bill making its way through the Kentucky legislature.

The bill has already passed out of a state Senate committee and would ban cities, state agencies and public employees from adopting policies that discourage them from cooperating with immigration officials.

University of Louisville Professor Riffat Hassan, an Islamic scholar and one of the event’s organizers, says the bill would create a culture of fear among Kentucky’s immigrant and minority communities.

“The intent doesn’t seem to be positive. It’s not beneficent in its intent. It doesn’t give compassion and understanding to people who have already gone through so much,” Hassan said.

J. Tyler Franklin

A bill that would require Kentucky cities, agencies and public employees to comply with federal immigration officials has cleared the first step in the legislative process.

The anti-sanctuary cities bill passed out of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday with a 7-2 vote. Lexington Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr and Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal voted against the measure.

Opponents have decried the measure as an expansion of law enforcement powers to untrained employees, saying it would sew mistrust in the immigrant community.


Becca Schimmel

The City of Bowling Green unveiled a new plan Tuesday aimed at building more inclusive communities that are economically vibrant for refugees and immigrants. 


The “Welcoming Plan” aims to create a stronger economy, provide safer and more connected communities, and promote resources for New American residents. “New Americans” are defined as any foreign-born person living in the region regardless of immigration status. 


Leyda Becker is Bowling Green’s International Community Liason and helped put the strategic plan together. She said refugees and immigrants kept telling her about the challenges they faced finding local jobs. 

U.S. Census Bureau

A group in Daviess County is already in high gear in its mission to get residents counted in the 2020 U.S. Census, including populations that are sometimes undercounted and undocumented immigrants.

The Complete Count Committee has been working to develop strategies to get the word out on the importance of the 2020 Census.

Keith Sanders, volunteer chair of the committee, said it’s important to make sure every person in the community knows it’s time for the once-in- a-decade count of everyone in America.

“We have targeted strategies to reach populations that are historically at-risk of an undercount," said Sanders. "Those particular categories include low-income families, single parent households, the minority community, non-English speaking, seniors.” 

Kentucky LRC

Republican leaders in Kentucky’s legislature are rallying around a bill that would ban cities, public agencies and universities from adopting so-called “sanctuary” policies that snub federal immigration officials.

The proposal has raised concerns from immigration and civil rights advocates who worry that it would prod public workers into enforcing federal immigration law and increase the number of Kentuckians facing deportation.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah and the bill’s sponsor, said that it would create more avenues for citizens to report undocumented immigrants.

Liz Schlemmer

 Kentucky’s legislative session kicked off with lots of conservative red meat on Tuesday — gun rights advocates held a day-long rally outside the Capitol and leaders of the state Senate announced that their top two bills will be an anti-“sanctuary city” policy and a voter ID proposal.

But the main task lawmakers will have to tackle over the next 59 working days will be writing a new two-year state budget while state revenue is predicted to be far outpaced by costs.


Lisa Gillespie

When two Nepalese immigrants wanted to open a home health agency for a growing community of refugees in Louisville, state regulators blocked them and a large Louisville hospital argued the business wasn’t needed. So now, the businessmen are suing Kentucky, challenging a law that some say allows monopolies to form.

Dipendra Tiwari and Kishor Sapkota, represented by the libertarian-leaning Institute of Justice, are suing the Cabinet for Health and Family Services on the premise that Kentucky’s “certificate of need” law — which was used to block their business from opening — is unconstitutional. 

J. Tyler Franklin

When immigrants move to the United States, their professional certifications don’t always transfer over. One Louisville nonprofit is offering small loans to help former doctors, nurses and others overcome the financial obstacles preventing them from pursuing their professions in their new home.

Ricardo Gonzalez moved to Louisville from San Juan, Puerto Rico, earlier this year after meeting a Puerto Rican woman who has lived here for decades. He was previously a real estate developer, attorney and U.S. government contractor in Puerto Rico.

Becca Schimmel

The former director for English Language Learning programs in Warren County said standardized tests aren’t appropriate for many refugees and immigrants, because there’s cultural bias inherent in the tests. 

Skip Cleavinger said one of the biggest challenges for refugee and immigrant students is that they’re expected to perform at the same level as their peers on standardized tests within a year of arriving at the school. 

“One of the primary things is that these standardized tests tend to use more difficult language than is necessary to measure math or reading ability.”

Becca Schimmel

School leaders in both Warren County and Bowling Green say they’re overwhelmed by the number of refugee and immigrant students filling their classrooms.

Superintendents came to the quartely meeting of the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky Thursday to voice their concerns and say they lack the resources to meet the basic needs of those students.

Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said in many cases his system doesn’t have the resources or the time to properly educate students. He said refugees often enroll in school with little to no formal education. 

How Cultural Training Helps Doctors Treat Refugees

Sep 4, 2019
Carter Barrett I Side Effects Public Media

Across the United States, there’s a push to give new doctors cultural training to work with refugees and other immigrants. And some say it’s the difference between healthy and sick patients.

On a block on Indianapolis’ southside, there are three international grocery stores -- Saraga international grocery, Tienda Morelos and Chinland Asian Grocery. 

This area once was almost all-white and hostile to minorities, according to a newspaper clipping from 1965. Now, a community of Burmese refugees, along with a growing subset of Congolese and Syrian refugees, call this southside suburb home. 

Teresa Christmas

Four Kentucky residents took a week to travel to El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico to get a first-hand look at what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and to find ways to help with the humanitarian crisis.

Summer Bolton, a graphic designer at The WKU Store at Western Kentucky University, said the Kentucky group went to a training session with the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso on July 30. Bolton said a coordinator of that network said they could help by bringing supplies to an immigrant resettlement camp in Juarez, Mexico.