Refugees Spend Weekend In Trump’s Childhood Home In Queens

In this Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 photo, Abdi Iftin, left, of Somalia, Uyen Nguyen, second from left, of Vietnam, Eiman Ali, right, of Somalia born in Yemen, and Ghassan al-Chahada, of Syria pose for a photo outside P... In this Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 photo, Abdi Iftin, left, of Somalia, Uyen Nguyen, second from left, of Vietnam, Eiman Ali, right, of Somalia born in Yemen, and Ghassan al-Chahada, of Syria pose for a photo outside President Donald Trump's boyhood home in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. The house that Trump’s father built is now a rental available on Airbnb. The international anti-poverty organization Oxfam rented it Saturday and invited refugees to share their stories with journalists. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) MORE LESS

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s childhood home in New York had some new occupants over the weekend — refugees who shared their stories as a way to draw attention to the refugee crisis as the United Nations General Assembly convenes this week with Trump in attendance.

The three-story Tudor-style home in Queens that Trump’s father, Fred, built in 1940 is now a rental available on Airbnb that anyone can stay in for $725 a night. It was auctioned off to an unidentified buyer in March for $2.14 million, its second time going up for auction.

The international anti-poverty organization Oxfam rented it Saturday and invited four refugees to talk with journalists. The Republican president’s administration issued travel bans on people from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees. After various court challenges, the Supreme Court last week allowed the restrictive policy on refugees to remain temporarily. The justices will hear arguments on the bans Oct. 10.

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

Trump lived in the house on a tree-lined street of single-family dwellings until he was about 4, 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.

“Knowing Donald Trump was here at the age of four makes me think about where I was at the age of four,” said Ali, her smiling face framed by a dark gray hijab. “We’re all kids who are raised to be productive citizens, who have all these dreams and hopes.”

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. Ali said she remembered Trump as an entertaining character on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but has since changed her opinion.

“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,” she said.

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 it likely was Trump’s childhood bedroom.

“Before the conflict began in Syria we had dreams of coming to America,” al-Chahada said. “For us, it was a dream come true.”

Al-Chahada said his life changed when 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,” al-Chahada said. “But since Trump was elected I don’t dare, I don’t dare leave this country and not be able to come back.”

He looked out the window into the front yard and thought about what he would say to the president.

“I would advise him to remember, to think about how he felt when he slept in this bedroom,” al-Chahada said. “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.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: