Hundreds Rally Against Potential Refugee Restrictions

The Fargo Civic Center was packed people opposed to a house bill

Hundreds spent the afternoon rallying in protest of a proposed house bill which has the potential to ban refugees in North Dakota communities.

Lawmakers say the bill is not set up to be against refugees, but rather to let communities decide how many they are capable of hosting.

They’re calling it Operation Wake-Up Call.

After two days of planning, hundreds of people showed up to rally against a house bill which allows North Dakota cities to control how many refugees they accept.

“Love thy neighbor,” said Fauzia Haider with the Fargo-Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council. “I think these are Christian values and people here claim to be very Christian.”

The bill has the potential to ban incoming refugees to the state.

Although lawmakers say the bill is not targeted against refugees, many think this bill is not the solution.

“Nothing is going to happen, really,” said Musab Bajaber of West Fargo. “These are victims, they’re not a threat to us. We should extend our hands the way we’ve been doing it for a long time. I think [the house bill] is thinly veiled. Xenophobic.”

Many brought signs saying things like, “I can’t see my mom because of Trump.”

“I can’t go back. If I go back, I can’t see my wife,” said Kivi Hasan of Moorhead.

“It’s really personal, the fact that someone can tell someone they can’t see their mother,” said Hasan’s wife, Fatima Amedi. “It’s inhumane.”

Republican State Representative Rich Becker thinks protests like this are blowing the bill out of proportion.

“Refugees can play an important role in building our country, so there’s absolutely nothing negative intended here,” said Becker. “It’s just a matter of rather than force people, let communities have a better say as to how many they can reasonably accept.”

Through chants and performances, they urge lawmakers to continue welcoming refugees.

“We will change our political landscape in Fargo,” one speaker said. “We will have a voice.”

“That’s what we need in this world is everybody included,” said Fargo City Commissioner John Strand. “Everybody honored, everybody respected, everybody having dignity, everybody having hope, everybody having a future.”

The rally was organized by the newly founded Fargo-Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council.

The House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing for the house bill this Friday.

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