Hoosiers celebrate World Refugee Day, reflect on US immigration issues

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As President Trump delayed nationwide immigration sweeps to deport those living in the United States illegally Saturday, a large group of people gathered in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate World Refugee Day.

Though refugees are in the United States legally, some say in a way they are similar to those who come illegally.

Exodus Refugee Immigration’s Executive Director Cole Varga says Indianapolis resettles refugees from many different countries, but Burma is probably the largest population that it handles.

“Right now, there’s roughly 26 million refugees that have had to flee their home and an additional 41 million individuals who are displaced globally,” Varga says.

23-year-old Alan Omar-Abbas moved with his family to the Hoosier state 4 years ago to escape Syria.

“I came out of the country because I was that young age where you have to be involved in war, and I didn’t like to be involved in that kind of force, so I was forced to leave the country or be involved in that situation,” Omar-Abbas said.

His family wanted a better life, and they wanted to be safe. It’s something he says many people coming to the United States illegally want too.

“Both the illegal and legally, they are the same person because both of them are looking for a home,” Omar-Abbas said.

Last week, President Trump issued a threat via Twitter to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement was set to deport families with court-ordered removals in 10 cities on Sunday.

Trump has since delayed it “to see if the Democrats and Republicans can work out a solution to border issues.”

Varga doesn’t have an opinion on Trump’s decision but does have one about immigrants.

“I think we should be welcoming to anyone who needs it, and right now, there’s a lot of crisis, conflict, and a lot of persecution. We can do more as a country to help those in need,” Varga said.

Varga says there have been cutbacks with the Trump administration as it relates to welcoming refugees in the U.S., but he’s grateful to help the people he can.

“Every time anyone I see supports and also smiles in on our face, it really means a lot,” Omar-Abbas said.

Exodus Refugee Immigration says they are expecting to welcome 400 new refuges this year in Indianapolis.

Indy has welcomed up to 1,000 in past years.

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