Protesters gathered outside The immigration and customs control offices in central Ohio asked the authorities to suspend the deportation of two women who have lived in the Columbus sanctuary for years.
Immigration activists hope the Biden government will mean fewer deportations and more refugees settling in Columbus and the rest of the country.
Former President Trump restricted the number of refugees admitted to the US to lows of 15,000 per year. During the campaign, President Joe Biden promised to increase that to 125,000.
Angie Plummer, executive director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services, says that number is a claim.
“The pipeline for processing refugees has been badly damaged. There is still a lot to be rebuilt,” says Plummer. “So we are not expecting this large number, especially not in this fiscal year.”
Plummer says various bans by the Trump administration – such as the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries – “have brought the machinery to a standstill”.
“If no one does the interviews or does the background checks, the cases are not moving forward,” adds Plummer.
And that delay, she says, has a human toll. On Thursday evening, Plummer and others greeted a four and a half year old girl who had been separated from her parents for four years.
“It was really bittersweet to finally see her with her family, but to know that she spent these really important formative years outside of them,” says Plummer. “And you can’t get that time back. So I hope that the new government will make the damage that has been done to these families a priority. “