Tsega Hailemariam said he is “shocked and baffled” by President Trump’s recent comments about immigrants, because he believes they don’t reflect the reality of African immigrant communities.

By Armando Trull (WAMU) |

WASHINGTON, D.C.―At Kaldi’s café in downtown Silver Spring, the espresso machine is pumping out coffee for dozens of customers. Owner Tsega Hailemariam immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia nine years ago, and opened up Kaldi’s in 2014. His café employs 35 people.

Tsega Hailemariam said he is “shocked and baffled” by President Trump’s recent comments about immigrants, because he believes they don’t reflect the reality of African immigrant communities. Trump has denied making those comments.

“I contribute to this country,” Tsega Hailemariam said. “I call this place my home.”

There are roughly 50,000 Ethiopians who live in the Washington. And Kaldi’s is one of hundreds of restaurants and other businesses established by the region’s diverse African community, which numbers close to 200,000.

Daniel Koroma, a Sierra Leone native, serves as the liaison between Montgomery County and its African immigrant residents.

“African immigrants make America great,” Koroma said.

Koroma said African immigrants tend to be highly-educated and work in science, education and healthcare. He notes that African immigrants play a big role in taking care of an aging America.

“The senior population and the elderly — many of those healthcare workers who love them, who care for them, are African immigrants,” Koroma said.

He believes Trump’s comments belittle the contributions of African immigrants to the United States, and voices concerns that President Trump’s rhetoric will harm U.S. service members with African roots: “Many of them are serving in Africa to defend us.”

Continue reading this story at WAMU
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