In March 2019, governments of the world met in Brussels for the third donor conference on Syria and made major financial commitments to address the crisis. Izza Leghtas argues that to realize genuine improvements in the lives of Syrian refugees, donor efforts must extend beyond funding.
The Trump administration slashed the number of refugees it will permit into the United States next year by 30 percent. The new ceiling is 30,000 — that's 15,000 fewer than this year.
RI president Eric Schwartz joins NPR’s Morning Edition to discuss refugees in the United States.
Refugees International's President Eric Schwartz discusses a new UNHCR report on refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe's borders.
The U.N. is calling for an investigation into Myanmar’s violent crackdown last year against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group. But Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are finally receiving aid, and despite repatriation discussions, many are reluctant to return to the people who brutalized them. Nick Schifrin talks to special correspondent Tania Rashid and Refugees International's Dan Sullivan.
A United Nations-mandated Fact-Finding Mission issued a scathing report documenting Myanmar security forces' violence against the country's ethnic Rohingya Muslim population last year.
RI’s Daniel Sullivan joins NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The Trump Administration is talking about drastically reducing the number of refugees permitted into the U.S. next year. The cutback has forced Refugees International - a leading advocacy organization that previously focused only on refugee crises overseas - to intervene here in the U.S. Andrea Mitchell is joined by Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International, to discuss.
On July 19, 1979, thirty-nine years ago, Refugees International undertook its first large-scale public advocacy effort on behalf of refugees. On that date, then-executive director Diane Lawson, along with one of RI’s founders Michael Morrissey, published a full-page ad in the Washington Post. Addressed to U.S. senators and representatives, the advocacy letter called for increased support for Indochinese refugees and set the course for our organization’s decades-long commitment to advocating for lifesaving action.
On April 24, 2018, Refugees International hosted its 39th Anniversary Dinner, honoring humanitarians who work to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugees and displaced people in the United States and worldwide. This year’s event honored Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Hala al-Sarraf, executive director of the Iraq Health Access Organization.
In this blog, part of the "Welcoming Communities" series, Jessica Thea writes about the organization Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, which is comprised of 640 members representing faith communities, NGOs, elected government officials, refugee communities, businesses, and schools in the D.C. area. The community-based group is dedicated to mobilizing communities in support of refugees who have resettled in the greater Washington, D.C. region.
Since taking office, Donald Trump and his Administration have implemented a sweeping anti-immigrant agenda that has involved multiple Muslim bans, mass deportations, the termination of DACA, the cancellation of temporary protected status (TPS) for multiple groups — and a dramatic reduction of the number of refugees admitted into the U.S.
So far this year, only 5,000 refugees have been admitted. This year’s cap on refugees is 45,000, the lowest level in decades, though at the current rate of admissions, it’s possible that only 20,000 refugees will be brought in all year.
The decrease in refugee admissions is part of Trump’s plan to implement a nativist, ethno-centric agenda which has long been pushed by hate groups. And Trump’s Administration is behind him: chief of staff John Kelly, who used to oversee the Department of Homeland Security, once said that if it were up to him, he would admit between zero and one refugee into the U.S. each year.
Trump and his Administration act like refugees are an inherently dangerous people and the United States is magnanimous in accepting any at all. But refugees undergo a rigorous screening process and multiple reports have found that they are beneficial to the U.S. economy. Moreover, the entire history of the United States involves welcoming in immigrants who were seeking opportunity or safety that they couldn’t find in their home country. Trump and his Administration are, in essence, barring the next generation of Americans.
Donald Trump and refugee admissions
Since taking office, Donald Trump has significantly curtailed refugee entry into the U.S. by:
- Slashing refugee admissions into the United States to 45,000 people per year
- Issuing an executive order pausing the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program for four months (from June to Oct. 2017), including a near-total suspension of admissions from 11 countries
- Instituting stricter vetting requirements, requiring officials to rescreen refugee applicants who already had been through the process and slowing admissions down
- Suspending its policy of admitting family members of refugees
Only 5,000 refugees were admitted into the U.S. within the first three months of fiscal year 2018. In Trump’s first presidential year, 33,368 refugees settled in the U.S., half the number accepted in 2015, and about a third of 2016 numbers.
The Trump Administration’s cap of 45,000 refugees per year is the lowest since the Refugee Resettlement Program was created by Congress in 1980. It was a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who authorized the highest refugee cap at 217,000 admissions, in comparison to around 70,000 to 80,000 under the Obama and Bush Administrations.
However, under the current pace of admissions, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. this year is likely to be closer to 20,000 — well below the 45,000 cap.
As Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a written statement, admitting so few refugees shows Trump’s continued callousness toward immigrants:
Setting a record-low refugee admissions level is more evidence of the Trump administration’s indifference and lack of humanity toward thousands of vulnerable refugees who have been forced to flee their home countries through no fault of their own.
“It’s enormously discouraging and dispiriting, and it is another reflection of this administration’s march away from the principle of humanity,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, who ran the refugee program at the State Department during the Obama Administration.
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