Washington, DC January 28, 2017 – President Trump has signed an Executive Order that includes, among other provisions, a suspension of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program altogether and a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. for people traveling from a number of predominately Muslim countries. The Executive Order says that priority will be given in the future to refugees who face religious persecution, “provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
This Executive Order also contains provisions that block refugee admissions from Syria indefinitely, suspend refugee admissions from all countries for 120 days, cap total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000, suspend visa issuance to countries of “particular concern,” and expedite the completion of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all visitors to the U.S.
Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, responded to the Executive Order with the following statement:
“The Executive Order that President Trump issued effectively slams America’s door in the face of thousands of men, women and children seeking protection from religious, ethnic and political persecution around the world. This Order is being issued under the guise of protecting national security, but denying access to protection for those fleeing persecution not only flies in the face of U.S. obligations to protect the persecuted, but also will not make Americans safer than we are now. The current U.S. resettlement program includes extensive effective security measures already. Closing routes to protection for refugees does not make us safer, it creates further international instability and drives refugees, women and children into the hands of drug traffickers and gangs, smugglers and traffickers further empowering these entities.
Rescuing refugees fleeing persecution and violence is fundamental to who we are as a nation that was founded by refugees seeking religious freedom. Welcoming people of all faiths to visit, study or do business here is who we are and how we have built an open, dynamic, prosperous, and free America. We should not be excluding any religion or nationality from the U.S. refugee resettlement program and we should not neglect to protect those fleeing ethnic, political, racial, or other forms of persecution.
The hallmark of our refugee resettlement program is that it accepts refugees based on vulnerability and ties to the United States. Religion and nationality are factors to consider in evaluating the refugee claim, but the program should not exclude a refugee on one of those grounds alone. Each refugee story is unique and should be evaluated on its own merit.”