Refugees, health care and hacking discussed at town hall

Refugees, health care and hacking discussed at town hall
March 23
06:45 2017

Photo by Todd Luck



The consequences of the Trump administration’s action on refugees and health care were among the topics at a town hall event by Indivisible Piedmont NC at Green Street United Methodist Church on Thursday, March 16.

No elected officials attended the event, but several were sent invitations. There were empty chairs set up for U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, Rep. Mark Walker, Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr, who organizers say didn’t reply to their request. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Alma Adams responded that they couldn’t attend because of conflicts.

Town halls across the country have become heated as many voice their discontent to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

The refusal of Burr and other lawmakers to hold town halls has become a source of controversy and protest.

With no lawmakers attending, the audience instead heard from speakers who were knowledgeable in areas affected by Trump’s policies.

“We just find this unacceptable,” said Indivisible Piedmont NC founder Grace Haynes. “We’ll continue to ask them, and we’ll continue to hold these. Because I think that we deserve it, and they need to speak to us.”

Indivisible Piedmont NC is one of 45,000 Indivisible groups nationwide that is “resisting” Trump’s  agenda.

Local World Relief Director Jennifer Foy told the packed crowd that her organization has been deeply affected by President Donald Trump’s recent temporary bans on refugees and a 60 percent cut in refugees admitted into the country. World Relief, a global organization that the State Department contracts with to resettle refugees, is paid money per refugee. This year, the organization lost $17 million in funding, closed five U.S. offices and reduced its U.S. workforce by 30 percent.

Foy said World Relief is refocusing its efforts, giving more attention to the refugees who do come, and will be adding low-cost assistance to immigrants trying to get green cards.

“He can do what he wants, but he’s not getting rid of us,” said Foy, referring to Trump’s refugee actions.

She said, unlike Trump’s rhetoric, refugees are thoroughly vetted by intelligence agencies before entering the country.

Mohanad Azzawi, an Iraqi refugee who lives in High Point, said that it took two years before he was able to come to the United States and he was thankful to be able to start a life outside the strife in his country.

“There is no safe place in a war zone,” he said.

Trump’s second attempt at an executive order suspending travel from several Muslim majority countries for 90 days and suspending refugees from coming in to the country for 120 days was blocked from going into effect by a judge last week. Courts have repeatedly ruled the ban is unconstitutional religious discrimination that tries to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise of a Muslim ban.

Healthcare was another big topic, as Mark Hall, Wake Forest University law school’s Health Law and Policy Program director, spoke on the repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare. He said the law was not failing or collapsing, but was a “garden that needed to be tended.” It needs legislation to fix and improve things, not repeal it, he argued.

He said he was unsure what would happen since Republicans are so divided on what will replace the ACA. He did feel with the proposed Medicaid cuts in the replacement proposals, that there will be no chance of North Carolina taking advantage of ACA’s federally funded Medicaid expansion, which the state never applied for.

Wake Forest Professor Helga Welsh spoke on Russia’s alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and leaking the information to help Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. She said it was consistent with their actions in other countries and that even the Kremlin was surprised Trump won. The FBI is currently investigating if there was any collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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