Trump Administration Should Affirm Key Role of State Department's Refugee Bureau

As the Administration considers reorganization of the government, more than 40 former U.S. diplomats and national security officials who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations along with 18 humanitarian organization leaders called on the Trump administration to affirm the key role of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).  The letter was delivered to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier today, with copies sent to leadership on Capitol Hill.  A copy of the letter is below.

Some of the most respected U.S. diplomats and national security officials signed onto the letter, including former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross. The letter is noteworthy for the diversity of its signatories, which included former defense and intelligence officials and leaders of humanitarian agencies, including many faith-based organizations.  It also included former prominent political appointees from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were involved in human rights and humanitarian issues, such as Lorne Craner, Will Taft, Arthur “Gene” Dewey, Ellen Sauerbrey, and David Kramer (all from Republican presidential administrations) and Wendy Sherman, Eric Schwartz, Ellen Laipson, Frederick Barton, and Anne Richard (all from Democratic presidential administrations).  See the full list of signers below.

The letter comes in reaction to a leaked proposal from the White House Domestic Policy Council proposing elimination of the Bureau, which the signers write “would have profound and negative implications for the Secretary of State’s capacity to influence policy issues of key concern to the United States.” 

The letter comes at a time when world displacement is at the highest level ever recorded, which underscores the critical importance of U.S. capacity to address global humanitarian needs. In this respect, the letter states, “the Trump administration is very fortunate to have been extremely well-served by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. The PRM Bureau plays, in effective partnership with USAID, a key role in promoting U.S. humanitarian and foreign policy interests, and has been an extraordinarily valuable tool for the Department of State and the Secretary of State – now and over the past decades.”

LIST OF LETTER SIGNERS

Former Government Officials:

Frederick D. Barton, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, and former Director, Office of Transition Initiatives, US Agency for International Development (USAID)

Robert M. Beecroft, Former Head of Mission, OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rand Beers, Former Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security

Mark Bellamy, Former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Daniel Benjamin, Former Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Robert Blake, Former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia and to Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Barbara Bodine, Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen

Mark Brzezinski, Former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden and former National Security Council Director for Russian/Eurasian Affairs and Southeast European Affairs

Reuben Brigety, Former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union

Nicholas Burns, Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and to Greece, and former Special Assistant to the President and Senior NSC Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

William J. Burns, Former Deputy Secretary of State, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and to Jordan

Lorne Craner, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and former Member, National Security Council Staff

Ryan Crocker, Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait and Lebanon and Member of the Board, Mercy Corps

Sheba Crocker, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

James Cunningham, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to Afghanistan and to Israel

Mary Curtin, Former Political Counselor, US Mission to the European Union

Jeffrey Davidow, Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Venezuela and Zambia and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Arthur “Gene” Dewey, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

James I. Gadsden, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs

Jean Geran, Former National Security Council Director for Democracy and Human Rights

Jeremy Konyndyk, Former Director, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Gordon Gray, Former U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia and former Director, State Department Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations

Victoria K. Holt, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Elise Jordan, Former National Security Council Director for Communications

David Kramer, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Daniel C. Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel

Mark P. Lagon, Former Ambassador-at-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons

Frank Loy, Former Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs

Princeton Lyman, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, and former Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan

Phyllis Oakley, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration and former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

Lynn Pascoe, Former US Ambassador to Malaysia and Indonesia and former UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs

James Purcell, Former Director, Bureau of Refugee Program and former Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Nancy Ely-Raphel, Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Former Coordinator for the Balkans, U.S. Department of State

Anne C. Richard, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration and former Director, Secretary of State’s Office of Resources, Plans and Policy

Dennis Ross, Former Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for the Central Region, former special Middle East Coordinator, and former Director, Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State

Ellen Sauerbrey, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

Teresita Schaffer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Kori Schake, Former Deputy Director for Policy Planning, Department of State and former National Security Council Director for Defense Strategy and Requirements

Wendy Sherman, Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs

William H. Taft, Former Legal Advisor, Department of State and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Former General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense

Sam Witten, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration and former State Department Deputy Legal Advisor

Representatives of Non-governmental Organizations:

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees and former General Counsel, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Department of Justice

Scott Arbeiter, President World Relief

Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, Founder, Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees

Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Rebecca Heller, Director, International Refugee Assistance Project

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO HIAS

Erol Kekic, Executive Director, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service

Anwar Khan, CEO, Islamic Relief USA

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps

Lavinia Limon, President and CEO, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children

David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee

David Ray, Vice President for Global Advocacy, CARE USA

David M. Robinson, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service USA and former Assistant Secretary of State, Conflict and Stabilization Operations

Eric P. Schwartz, President, Refugees International, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, and former Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs

The Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries

Tsehaye Teferra, President and CEO, Ethiopian Community Development Council

Wendy Young, President, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Additional Recipients of the Letter:

Senator Bob Corker, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senator Lindsey Graham, Chair, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Representative Ed Royce, Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee

Representative Eliot Engel, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee

Representative. Hal Rogers, Chair. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Representative Nita Lowey, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

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