June 20, 2018 – As we mark World Refugee Day 2018 on June 20, governments confront humanitarian challenges of enormous proportion, with more than 68 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world. The U.S. government has long played a key role in helping meet the needs of refugees and IDPs. Thus, it is appropriate and important that Refugees International (RI) evaluates and offers a report card on the Trump administration’s progress on refugee and humanitarian protection.
We have evaluated the Trump administration in six critical areas, involving performance both at home in the United States and overseas. Regrettably, as described in detail in the sections that follow, the Trump administration has received an overall failing grade for its policies and performance.
Unfortunately, over the past 17 months, the Trump administration has weakened U.S. domestic refugee law and humanitarian policy significantly. This of course includes the inhumane separation of families seeking asylum at the southwest border of the United States. But there are many other examples of this erosion of basic protection principles, including the dramatic weakening of the U.S. political asylum process generally, the crippling of the U.S. Refugee Admissions program, and the disregard of humanitarian imperatives in the application of Temporary Protected Status. In humanitarian activities overseas, President Trump has sought to roll back U.S. leadership in financial support for lifesaving assistance based on need, imposed policies that adversely impact women and girls, and failed to assert leadership in efforts to end conflicts that continue to inflict horrific humanitarian suffering.
While this is discouraging news on World Refugee Day, the good news is that there is little that prevents President Trump and his administration from changing course and improving U.S. practices substantially.