Why The New Refugee Ban Is Just As Bad As The Old One

By Rachel Nusbaum, HIAS.org

Why The New Refugee Ban Is Just As Bad As The Old One

Protesters shout and hold up signs at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California on January 29, 2017. U.S.


On Monday, Donald Trump signed a slightly revised executive order halting the refugee program and banning immigration from a list of predominantly Muslim countries.

Despite some small tweaks (Iraq is off the list of banned countries, holders of Special Immigrant Visas or Green Cards are exempted now) this order remains an existential threat to the refugee program. The heartbreak and anxiety this policy is causing among many refugees already living in the U.S.—who fear that they may be permanently separated from family members still overseas—is as painful as it is unnecessary.

One of the many concerning things about this revised order is that it retains the lowered admissions ceiling proposed in the original order. This number is set by the president at the beginning of the fiscal year. President Obama set it at 110,000 for 2017. President Trump’s order would retroactively lower it to 50,000, essentially slashing the number of places for those seeking refuge in the U.S. by more than half.

That means thousands of the most vulnerable families will be prevented from finding safety and freedom here. Not because they were flagged on a security screening. Not because they were only pretending to be refugees. In fact, there are currently more than 60,000 verified refugees who have been approved by the U.S. government for resettlement. Instead, a political decision by a powerful man in a country they have never seen will keep them in untenable and often perilous situations.

By implementing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, this order harms the people who did everything right. These are innocent people who waited their turn, submitted all the necessary background forms, were honest and forthright in every government interview and screening, and relived the trauma of fleeing for their life multiple times in order for small details of their story to be verified and corroborated.

This is a tragedy for each family that came so close to a new home. It also tarnishes our legacy as a beacon of hope and freedom. 

The language of the ban may have changed slightly, but the result for refugees is still the same. Tens of thousands of refugees will remain in danger after they had already been approved to come to America.

You can take a stand against the unacceptable scapegoating of refugees, and raise your voice in support of continuing the American tradition of welcoming the persecuted. Call the White House comment line (at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414) and tell President Trump that you will not stand for this. Share a simple and clear message of support for refugees and opposition to the ban.

Not done yet? Here are more ways you can make your voice heard. At HIAS, we will continue to fight right along with you, using every tool at our disposal—including litigation.

To stay up to date on how you can stand up and fight back for refugees, follow HIAS on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

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