President Donald Trump’s travel ban is personal for Emmanuel Gai Solomon. A native of Sudan who came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in 2001, Solomon is calling for unity in the wake of Trump’s “mindless executive order,” which bars travelers from Sudan and six other predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.
“We as the people in this community — we need to stand with the refugees from those countries that were mentioned,” Solomon, who teaches math at the DeKalb International Student Center, said at a recent Clarkston City Council meeting. “We ran away from those repressive regimes to come to this country.”
Solomon lives in Clarkston, which could feel a disproportionate impact from Trump’s executive order. Just 1.4 square miles, Clarkston is home to about 12,000 residents, nearly half of whom are foreign-born. Because of its affordable housing, plentiful jobs and proximity to Atlanta, the town has been attracting immigrants and refugees from around the world for decades. Clarkston – nicknamed the Ellis Island of the South — is home to people from several of the Muslim-majority countries covered in Trump’s travel ban. Sixty languages are spoken there.
Parts of Trump’s executive order are temporary. For example, one section bars any refugees from resettling here for 120 days. Other parts are indefinite, including a ban on all Syrian refugees. Further, the order caps the number of any refugees who could be resettled here this fiscal year at 50,000, down from the 110,000 ceiling set by the Obama administration.
“Most of the refugees that I know who have come here — they have amounted to something,” Solomon said. “They will come here and go to school and do something with their lives.”