LISTEN: Kentucky Immigrants Weigh In On New Proposed Restrictions
President Donald Trump is supporting new legislation that would restrict who can immigrate to the U.S. legally. The measure focuses on "merit-based" immigration, giving skilled workers who can speak English preference over others, such as family members of those already in the U.S.
Trump has thrown his support behind the measure,claiming American workers shouldn’t have to compete with immigrants for unskilled jobs.
Immigrants make up 4.5 percent of Louisville’s population, according to an Urban Institute report using 2004 data. The national average was higher, at 12 percent. However, refugees comprise much more of the immigrant population in Louisville (15 percent) than at the national level (7 percent).
I asked immigrants in downtown Louisville for their thoughts on the measure. Listen to what they had to say in the player above.
An Iranian family said the measure wouldn’t impact them, but they’ve heard their share of horror stories. Maryam (who did not want to give her last name) said her Iraqi friend tried desperately to have her dad visit her.
“[Immigration] didn’t let him in and he passed away,” she said. “My friend didn’t have a chance to see her dad.”
Visul Sigamani was visiting Louisville from Burlington, Kentucky. He’s originally from Canada, where they also encourage only skilled workers come to the country.
“[The policy is] very similar to the one [Trump proposed]," Sigamani said.
Marian Sefow and her daughter Nasra Hussein are originally from Somalia. They're caught in a Catch-22: they fear for their family’s safety in Somalia, where Al Shabab terrorists threaten the country’s stability, but their family members have concerns about immigrating to the U.S.
“They feel like they’re more safer over there than here,” Hussein said, “because of the stuff they hear over here about Trump being president.”