This piece was originally published in Newsweek here.
President Donald Trump and his administration have received a failing grade on a report card assessing the U.S. government's performance on refugee and humanitarian protection.
Released on Monday by Refugees International, an independent humanitarian organization advocating for better support for displaced and stateless people, the new report card finds Trump and his administration wanting for the second year running.
"In this report card, we found that as bad as the Trump administration's performance was last year, in fact, this year it has gotten worse," Refugees International President Eric Schwartz told Newsweek in an interview.
"It reflects such a tale of cruelty and woe that really isn't adequately captured in the daily reporting of the media because it is coming from so many different directions," he said.
Out of seven categories assessing the U.S.'s status on refugee and humanitarian protection, the Trump administration earned an "F," or a failing grade on five.
Among those five were the government's slashing of its Refugee Admissions Program as well as its its efforts to revoke the Temporary Protected Status program for approximately 320,000 people. The Trump administration also received an "F" on its efforts on humanitarian funding, asylum and "strengthening the multilateral system of refugee, migration and humanitarian response."
"The Trump administration continues to undermine U.S. refugee law and longstanding U.S. humanitarian policy through cruel practices toward families seeking asylum, weakening the U.S. asylum process, and crippling the U.S. Refugee Admissions program," a summary of the report card's findings states.
Meanwhile, "overseas, President Trump continued restrictions on life-saving humanitarian aid—including aid to refugee women and girls—failed to lead efforts to end conflicts inflicting humanitarian suffering, and separated the United States from broad-based global efforts to improve global responses on migration and refugees," it says.
Overall, it found that the Trump administration's "performance has only gotten worse" when it comes to its approach on refugee and humanitarian protection.
While the Trump administration did fail the majority of the categories covered by the report card, it managed to escape with just a "D," or an "unsatisfactory, though minimally acceptable" grade on two issues: Diplomacy to save lives and its efforts to assist refugee women and girls.
"Among the humanitarian crises currently causing the greatest suffering are those in Myanmar, Syria, and Yemen. President Trump is responsible for none of them, but presidential leadership could be critical to mitigating future suffering," the report states. "To date, the president's actions—and failures to act—have been extremely damaging to vulnerable populations in these countries."
Despite "what has probably been one of the greatest mass crimes of our generation," Schwartz said of the brutal expulsion of some 700,000 Rohingya in 2017 and the killings of thousands more by Myanmar's security forces, "the president has been remarkably and astonishingly... silent."
Meanwhile, on Yemen, where there are more than 24 million people in need of assistance and protection according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Trump administration has "failed to hold the Saudi-led coalition to account," the report continues.
While the report states that the Trump administration's policy approach on Syria "continues to lack coherence," it does note that the government "has slowed its disengagement from northeast Syria."
"The administration has been partially successful in negotiating with Turkey a limited buffer zone between Turkey and Syrian-Kurdish forces in northeast Syria," it continues. "However, it has failed to commit adequate diplomatic resources toward efforts to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib in Syria's northwest."
On the Trump administration's efforts to support refugee women and girls, the Refugees International report card states that the Trump administration "continues to impose policies that either roll back or threaten important global gains for the protection of women and girls."
Pointing to the Trump administration's decision to reinstate and expand what had been known as the Mexico City Policy, or the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing legal abortion services or referrals, as well as from advocating for abortion law reform, the report card notes that "in early 2019, the administration took the policy even further."
"The U.S. government now will not fund foreign NGOs that use any monies—even if those monies do not come from the U.S. government—to support other organizations that provide information on abortion," it said.
However, one of the main reasons that the Trump administration did not receive a "completely failing grade" on this issue, was that "there is an exception to these prohibitions in the case of humanitarian and disaster-related foreign assistance accounts."
While the Trump administration narrowly evaded an "F" on both issues, Schwartz said the "D" it received on both fronts should signal "unsatisfactory" performance.
Overall, he said, "the full spectrum of hostility towards some of the world's most vulnerable people is really breathtaking and it is really important to have a document like this because it pulls together a range of cruel and nasty measures in conflict with U.S. policy for decades," he said.
"There's not an area of international humanitarian concern that has escaped the kinds of cruel measures that conflict with international humanitarian principals which have been imposed by this administration," Schwartz added. "Nothing prevents this president and administration from charting a new course, but the record to date is pretty awful."