Charlotte refugee agencies seeing a drop in new immigration clients

Charlotte refugee agencies seeing a drop in new immigration clients

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Local relief agencies involved in the resettlement of families coming to Charlotte all feel caught up in the latest immigration whirlwind.

Groups trying to make a difference point out how the rules of engagement have clearly changed. Anonymously is how immigrants seeking legal status preferred to be identified, and one agency charged with the task of finding places for newcomers describe the process as slow.

Marsha Hirsch, the executive director of the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, attributes the reduction in cases in the Queen City and elsewhere to the hardline stand taken by the Trump administration.

"Carolina Refugee has been receiving 350 to 380 people. This number, we've received 93, and I don't expect that number to rise much - about a 100," Hirsch said. "The executive branch has the prerogative to set the ceiling for refugee arrivals in October 2017. The Trump administration set that number at an all-time low."

A presidential campaign suggestion by President Trump has impacted the work carried out at the non-profit agency.

WBTV was on-hand months ago when one of the last families relocated to Charlotte from East Africa with help from Hirsch's agency.

"We work with people all over the world," Hirsch said. "In recent years, we've received people from Buton, Burma, Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia."

Clients who all have their papers and status in order are served by the agency, unlike those who have been rounded up with the possibility of returning to Central and South America.

In Charlotte, the flow of legal immigration has been reduced to a faint trickle.

Workers at the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency say they've only managed to find places in the community for two clients over the last two months.

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