Thursday 23 November 2017

Refugees rent out Donald Trump's childhood home in New York

Eiman Ali in one of the bedrooms of President Donald Trump's boyhood home in the Jamaica Estates neighbourhood of Queens, New York (AP)
Eiman Ali in one of the bedrooms of President Donald Trump's boyhood home in the Jamaica Estates neighbourhood of Queens, New York (AP)

US president Donald Trump's childhood home in New York received some new occupants over the weekend - refugees.

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam rented out the property on Airbnb, allowing four people to share their stories as a way of drawing attention to the refugee crisis as the United Nations General Assembly convenes this week with Mr Trump in attendance.

The three-storey Tudor-style home in Queens that Mr Trump's father, Fred, built in 1940 can now be rented by anyone for 725 dollars (£533) per night.

The house was auctioned off to an unidentified buyer in March for 2.14 million dollars (£1.57 million).

Oxfam invited four refugees to talk with journalists at the property.

The Republican president's administration issued travel bans on people from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees.

After various court challenges, the US supreme court last week allowed the restrictive policy on refugees to remain temporarily. The justices will hear arguments on the bans on October 10.

Shannon Scribner, acting director for the humanitarian department of Oxfam America, said: "We wanted to send a strong message to Trump and world leaders that they must do more to welcome refugees."

Mr Trump lived in the house on a tree-lined street of single-family dwellings until he was about four, when his family moved to another home his father had built nearby.

In an upstairs bedroom, Eiman Ali, 22, looked around at the dark wood floors and a copy of the book Trump: The Art Of The Deal on a nearby table and wondered about the home's previous resident.

Ms Ali said: "Knowing Donald Trump was here at the age of four makes me think about where I was at the age of four.

"We're all kids who are raised to be productive citizens, who have all these dreams and hopes."

Ms Ali was three when she arrived in the United States from Yemen, where her parents had fled when war broke out in their native Somalia.

She said she remembered Mr Trump as an entertaining character on Celebrity Apprentice, but has since changed her opinion.

She said: "To have someone so outspoken against my community become the president of the United States was very eye-opening and hurtful, because I have invested a lot in this country."

Down the hall, Ghassan al-Chahada, 41, a Syrian refugee who arrived in the United States with his wife and three children in 2012, sat in a room with bunk beds and a sign on the wall that said this was likely Mr Trump's childhood bedroom.

Mr al-Chahada said: "Before the conflict began in Syria we had dreams of coming to America.

"For us, it was a dream come true."

He said his life changed when Mr Trump signed the ban that barred people from Syria and five other countries from entering the United States.

"I had hopes I would get my green card and be able to visit my country," Mr al-Chahada added.

"But since Trump was elected I don't dare, I don't dare leave this country and not be able to come back."

When asked what he would say to the president, Mr al-Chahada said: " I would advise him to remember, to think about how he felt when he slept in this bedroom.

"If he can stay in tune with who he was as a child, the compassion children have and the mercy, I would say he's a great person."

AP

Press Association

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