The reworked “travel ban” continues to conflate the victims of terrorism with the actual perpetrators of extremist violence.
Refugees International (RI) condemns President Trump’s revamped Executive Order which bans refugees from entering the United States. The reworked “travel ban” continues to conflate the victims of terrorism with the actual perpetrators of extremist violence. A large portion of refugees seeking admission to the United States are children, the elderly, and the infirm, who pose no threat to U.S. security and whose lives are placed in jeopardy because of the ban on admission. While the new Executive Order seemingly presents a new, more palatable tone and dials back specific targeting of Syrian refugees, its fundamental message is clear: the U.S. no longer welcomes refugees. And while the largest numbers of refugees come from war-torn countries in which extremist groups operate (Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia), the U.S system for vetting refugees has proven time and time again to be effective, with its rigorous procedures that take a year and a half to two years.
The new travel ban again suspends for 90 days entry into the United States for people from six Muslim-majority nations and halts with some exceptions the processing of new entry visas. Further, and of greatest concern to RI, the Executive Order also conditionally suspends the U.S. Refugees Admission Program for 120 days. The order emphasizes a potentially stronger role of state and local authorities in the placement of refugees and sets a ceiling of 50,000 refugees in 2017, which represents a considerable reduction in planned refugee admissions and effectively leaves less than 15,000 spots for the rest of this year. While the new order is more specific in its waiver authorities and its exclusion of individuals from the “travel ban” – and removes Iraq from the list of countries singled out in the original Executive Order and drops the indeterminate ban of Syrian refugees – the new Executive Order overall remains highly objectionable and discriminatory against the victims of forced displacement.
Finally, the Executive Order undermines the ability of U.S. officials to carry out humanitarian diplomacy, a critical tool which insures U.S. effectiveness when responding to humanitarian crises overseas. The Executive Order diminishes the standing of U.S. diplomats as they work to respond to a wide range of crises and disasters, and, as a result, will undermine the effectiveness of any U.S. emergency response, potentially putting thousands of lives at greater risk.
While RI held out hope that a more humane approach to refugees would prevail within the Trump administration, the president has again barred the victims of war, violence, and persecution from finding protection within the United States. RI continues to reject the blanket prohibition of refugees and any significant reduction in refugee resettlement numbers.
RI therefore continues its condemnation of the president’s misguided pursuit of these anti-refugee policies and encourages President Trump to instead address the very real issues that have led to today’s staggering global refugee crisis. U.S. leadership is sorely needed on refugee issues and the Trump administration’s outrageous policy will not only damage U.S. standing in the world, but it will ultimately undermine U.S. interests and security. As we witness the ongoing tragedy of war and persecution, as well as the emergence of large-scale famine in several countries, this is no time for the United States to retreat from its role as the world’s leader on humanitarian and refugee issues.
While the Trump administration continues to pursue its anti-refugee policies – exploiting for political gain people who are among the most vulnerable in the world – we will continue our mission to defend those who cannot defend themselves. We will continue to speak out and demand that the United States stay true to its fundamental values and welcome all refugees.