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White House travel ban impacting some Hoosiers

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Posted at 12:08 AM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 06:19:10-05

INDIANAPOLIS — People from Burma (Myanmar), who now call Central Indiana home, are feeling the impacts of The House's recent travel ban.

They are getting ready to help their community celebrate Myanmar Union Day, marking 73 years since the southeast Asian country became free of British rule. While they plan to celebrate this culturally significant holiday, the recent addition of Myanmar to The White House's Travel Ban will be hanging over them.

"This is a great concern to the community," Elaisa Vahnie, Burmese American Community Institute Executive Director, said.

Vahne says the travel ban is already impacting people who planned to reunite with their family in the United States.

"Spouse, children, parents are still in Myanmar," Vahnie said. "They are in the process of filing the applications to bring them here."

Many are fleeing the ongoing genocide of Myanmar's Muslim minority. The death toll of the genocide, which started in August 2017, is estimated to be more than 10,000 people.

"Based on all that information, we want to work with politicians, our friends, and most importantly with our community," Vahnie said.

A lot of the Burmese people who are in the country now wouldn't be here if the travel ban was in place when they came here. The process requires a lot of time, money, and dedication, which makes those who become citizens grateful.

"The Burmese are hard working people," Vahnie said. "They get their education and then come back and give back to the community in many ways. We have seen they are already leaders in many different fields: health and education sector."

Vahnie hopes the travel ban is only temporary.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says the 13 countries under the travel ban did not meet security and information sharing standards.

Once those are met, countries can be removed from the travel ban list. The new restrictions start February 22. They will not apply to designated refugees or student visa holders.

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