Would Lexington be prepared to receive migrants?

Would Lexington be prepared to receive migrants?
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Some migrants coming into this country are being flown and bussed to places like Martha’s Vineyard and near the Vice President’s house in Washington DC, areas many of those migrants know nothing about.

According to national reports, city leaders didn’t even know migrants were coming and were not prepared to offer social services. If migrants were to be displaced to Lexington, would the community be prepared to receive them?

“Lexington wouldn’t be ready for the housing part but Lexington is always going to welcome those in need,” said Ginny Ramsey, director of Catholic Action Center. “We have that many folks and many many more in our streets right now though. That’s the difficulty we would have is shelter.”

Ramsey says the Catholic Action Center homeless shelter can currently sleep 101 people, and it’s currently at full capacity. Ramsey says if Lexington received busloads of migrants and they could afford rental housing, they would still have trouble finding a roof over their heads.

“We’re 98 percent occupied in rentals in this town,” Ramsey said. “It is very difficult to find rentals.”

Ramsey says other Kentuckians are already coming to Lexington seeking refuge from natural disasters.

“We already have refugees, if you wish, from our floods. We have people who have moved here from Western Kentucky from the tornadoes,” said Ramsey.

Eladio Bobadilla is an Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at UK. He was an immigrant from Mexico and is now an American citizen.

“I study immigrant communities. I know what these people are going through. I understand they are suffering tremendously. They often don’t know where they are going, where they are being sent. It seems to me extremely and extraordinarily cruel,” said Bobadilla.

So, could Lexington be one of those cities to host refugees without warning?

“In places like Martha’s Vineyard, people were not ready but people rose to the occasion and, immediately, the community mobilized to house, to feed, to protect those migrants. I suspect we would do the same here in Lexington, Bobadilla said.

The city did host displaced people from Hurricane Katrina, as well as Haitians in 2010 who were recovering from a historic earthquake.

“If it happens, we’ll deal with it,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey says bed space in the Catholic Action Center has been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.