Minnesota's Somali community fears for loved ones under Trump's refugee ban

There is fear in Minnesota’s large Somali community as they await President Donald Trump’s expected temporary ban on refugees from Somalia and other countries.

“Almost everyone I know has someone that was in the process, or some family members in the refugee camps,” Abdi Bihi, a local Somali-American leader, told Fox 9. “This gentleman said, ‘I just spent $6,000, most of my savings, to bring my kids to Nairobi so they can have an interview.’”

Last year, 1,410 Somali refugees moved to Minnesota; 976 moved in 1996. In all, 3,059 total refugees came to Minnesota last year; 2,166 came in 2015.

“We have family members arriving tomorrow, the next day, and next week. And we have cases booked every week,” said Jane Graupman, executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota. “That means for single moms here, they’re waiting for their husbands to join their families. They may have been separated for two or three years. And that person just got approved across the 12 different security clearances.”

Bihi said the Somali community has a lot in common with President Trump, including their number one goal: wiping out terror groups.

“I don’t think President Trump knows much about the community," Bihi said. "I openly invite him right here to Cedar-Riverside, to meet and see Somali-Americans.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, lived in a refugee camp for four years. She is among several lawmakers speaking out against the Presidents actions.

“The refugees today are not that far, or different, from the refugees, immigrants of yesterday," Omar said at a press conference on Wednesday. "Your fathers, your grandfathers, great grandfathers, grandmothers, great grandmothers." 

Sen. Al Franken issued a statement, saying in part: “We Minnesotans are inclusive, sharing common values despite not always sharing the same background, religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation—and I proudly represent every single one of you.”