President Donald Trump’s childhood home (located in Queens, New York) has now become a shelter for refugees. An international confederation of charitable organizations focused on alleviating poverty, Oxfam, has taken a novel approach to protest and make a statement concerning the Trump administration’s approach to immigration.
President Trump launched his presidential campaign at Trump Tower with a now infamous speech on immigration. When speaking of Mexican’s who migrate to the United States Trump stated, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” While many considered these comments inflammatory, xenophobic and even racist, Trump doubled down on his controversial immigration policy. Eventually, he was elected president partly based on some of his fiery immigration rhetoric.
Once Trump was elected he sought to make good on some of his immigration promises. For example; In January 2017 Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order sparked outrage, numerous protests, and legal challenges. A week later a federal judge in Seattle suspended it nationwide, allowing banned visitors to travel to the US pending an appeal by the administration. The legality of the executive order is still currently tied up in litigation.
Trump’s stance on immigration remains problematic amongst immigrant advocacy organizations. Some of those associations have explored ways to push back against Trump’s policies. Oxfam is paying the $725 per night bill from Airbnb, in order to make a bold statement about Trump’s immigration policies.
This summer Airbnb, the online marketplace and hospitality service which allows individuals to rent out homes on a short-term basis, announced that Trump’s childhood home located in Queens New York would be available for a $725 nightly rate. Oxfam made the decision to pay the $725 nightly rate and allow refugees in the United States to stay at the residence.
Shannon Scribner, the acting director of Oxfam’s humanitarian department told the Associated Press “We wanted to send a strong message to Trump and world leaders that they must do more to welcome refugees.” Ghassan al-Chahada, a 41-year-old Syrian refugee who stayed in the home added the following about Trump, “I would advise him to remember, to think about how he felt when he slept in this bedroom. If he can stay in tune with who he was as a child, the compassion children have and the mercy, I would say he’s a great person.”
Some of the guests at Trump’s childhood home were not as optimistic. Eiman Ali, a 22-year-old refugee from Yemen stated, “To have someone so outspoken against my community become the president of the United States was very eye-opening and hurtful because I have invested a lot in this country,”
Last week The Supreme Court voted to allow the restrictive policy on refugees to remain temporarily. This means that the refugee resettlement program, which was put in place to assist refugees to find housing and get acquainted with the United Staes, has been temporarily suspended as well. Furthermore, the administration has announced that they are looking to cut the number of refugees coming into the country in half. Justices are set to hear arguments on the travel ban beginning October 10. With this in mind, Oxfam is desperately attempting to bring attention to the plight of the refugee in the United States.
While Oxfam’s political statement is unlikely to sway Trump or his administration away from their hard stance on immigration, the organization hopes it will motivate some United States citizens to pay attention to what is happening in Washington D.C. and take active steps to join the fight to advocate for refugees in the United States.