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Tampa Bay Refugee Community In Limbo

Radiant Hands Inc.
Food baskets, provided by Radiant Hands Inc., to refugee families as they resettle in the central Florida area.

The Tampa Bay refugee community is confused and concerned over President Trump's executive order suspending the country's refugee program for four months and indefinitely stopping Syrian refugees from entering the country.

“Everybody is kind of in limbo not knowing what to do,” said Magda Saleh, president of Radiant Hands, a non-profit organization that helps resettle refugees from Muslim and Arabic-speaking countries.

“But everybody has been warned very clearly to not travel outside of the country unless they're U.S. citizens because we're not sure who is going to be let back and who is not,” Saleh said.

There are conflicting reports on how the executive order affects refugees with green card status which means they’re lawful permanent residents of the U.S.

Saleh said Radiant Hands has helped about 300 families over the past 18 months settle in central Florida. But now everything is on hold due to the travel ban. She said people were disheartened initially

“What has given everybody hope and has been very heartening, has been the huge level of support from the non-Muslim, non-Middle Eastern community -- the Americans really standing with us,” Saleh said, referencing the demonstrations over the weekend at airports nationwide and the large turnout for the Women’s March on Jan. 21.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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