Iowa Refugee Arrivals Cut in Half Following Travel Ban

Mar 9, 2017

Credit Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons

Refugee resettlement groups in Iowa are trying to determine how the new version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban will affect their clients.

The new travel ban maintains the 50 percent cut in total refugee arrivals to the U.S. this year, and that cut is reflected in refugee resettlement efforts in Iowa.

“We are probably down 40 to 60 percent on arrivals for the year," said Richey Thongvanh, a case manager with the Catholic Charities of Des Moines Refugee Resettlement Program.  "We were slated to have about 250 [refugees]. Now, 125 are slated to come.” 

The two other major resettlement agencies in the state are planning for similar reductions this year. 

Thongvanh said  the travel ban is causing delays for refugees, and some have been waiting for 20 years to move to Iowa. 

According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Des Moines, some people blocked from entry by the first executive order could now come to Iowa.

The new order removed the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. It also took Iraq off the list of banned majority-Muslim countries. Now, Iraqis who worked for the U.S. Armed Forces can continue to enter the country on Special Immigrant Visas. 

The new ban goes into effect next week.