Hundreds of American people outraged by Donald Trump’s refugee ban have signed up to a British charity that links refugees with families willing to house them.
Almost 300 families from the US entered their home details on RoomForRefugees.com over the weekend in the wake of Trump’s executive order suspending refugee entry for 120 days. There is an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria.
The website is run by the Glasgow charity Positive Action in Housing, and in the last year volunteers registered on it have provided more than 25,000 nights of accommodation to refugees in Britain.
Registering with the site, Lacy from Oregon wrote: “With Trump's election, and so much hatred aimed towards refugees, I find that I cannot bear it in my conscience to stand idly by.
“The quote on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”) brings tears to my eyes because our country has changed so much, and not for the better. I want to LIVE the change that I want to see in the world, and if offering my couch for a refugee helps, then I feel that I must do so.”
Karen, a retired secretary from Iowa, said she and her husband, a hardware store manager, were desperate to help. “I’ve been watching TV coverage of the shameful way President Trump is treating refugees," she wrote. "It just occurred to us that many must need a helping hand to get on their feet in a new land."
Maura from Chicago, Illinois, entered only one word when asked on the form why she was offering up her home: “Trump”.
Robina Qureshi, the charity’s director, told BuzzFeed News: “Every time Trump opens his mouth this is what happens. People are so angry and they tell us why.
“You have to remember that this is a detailed registration process, it’s not a petition or something like that. People have to upload pictures of their homes and give confidential and personal information about themselves so that they can be matched with refugees.”
The charity does not yet work in America but is trying to find a partner since more than 1,800 people from the US have now registered with the site.
“People are desperate to help but there’s nothing like this in the US,” Qureshi said. “We don’t just put people in homes, we check and make sure people are fine.
“We can’t house refugees in the US until a programme is put in place. We’re desperate to work with American organisations working with refugees in need because we can help people within days.”
The website was set up in the wake of Alan Kurdi’s death in 2015 when there was a national outpouring of support for refugees and people keen to offer up their homes.
Anyone pledging on the site to give up space in their home to refugees is asked a series of detailed questions. Among these is why they have decided to help. This weekend the reasoning was overwhelmingly because of one man.
Justina, a salon owner from Florida, lives in a small home with one bedroom and a study but pledged to put a bed in her office. She wrote: “I think Trump is disgusting and he is going to destroy our country with his anti-immigration laws. My entire family emigrated here from Italy and it makes me sick what he is trying to do…
“I’ve read stories about what the Syrian people are going through just to seek asylum and it is so horrible. I want to provide a safe place where someone can escape and feel loved.”
Deby from Whitehall, New York, wrote: “Because no one deserves to suffer from war. My family ran from the Holocaust and only lived because of the good graces of others. I hope I can make the difference in someone else’s life.”