LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Catholic Charities of Louisville celebrated World Refugee Day on Thursday, as a national debate over how people crossing the U.S.- Mexico border are treated continued.
Members of the organization and the refugees it serves shared a meal and watched performances that showed off where different people, who have newly arrived in the country, came from.
What may have been more difficult to see is how those people, new to America, are coping with the discussions they are hearing about others trying to enter the country.
"The timing couldn't be more important for our county and our city right now," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, while speaking at the World Refugee Day event.
Catholic Charities of Louisville CEO Lisa DeJaco Crutcher said dehumanizing rhetoric describing people crossing the U.S. - Mexico border can be disheartening for Louisville's refugee population.
"It's especially difficult for people who've gone through so much to get here to get here to the United States," DeJaco Crutcher said.
She added that the refugees she works with are in different legal and practical situations then immigr ants at the border, but she's among those criticizing the federal policies that allowed family separation.
"It's against every religious tradition that we know of," Fischer said.
Fischer added he's glad an executive order was signed halting separation, but said the action should be monitored and further plans need to be made to figure out how children will be reunited with their families.
DeJaco Crutcher said other federal policies have decreased the amount of refugees allowed to come into the country to record lows since the 1980s.
"We here in this community have so much more capacity to resettle refugees than we're being allowed to do," DeJaco Crutcher said. "That's really tragic."
She said Catholic Charities is doing what it can as part of an international campaign to make refugees and immigr ants feel welcomed -- and Thursday, some said it was working.
"We are glad, because the American people have been very kind to us," a refugee from Cuba named Ramon said. "We are happy."
Catholic Charities of Louisville will be holding a workshop to discuss how the church views social issues related to immigration.