Trump’s Planned Action on Refugees is a Betrayal of American Values

WASHINGTON—President Trump is considering issuing an executive order barring the resettlement of refugees from several Muslim-majority countries, calling for “extreme vetting” and reducing the number of refugee admissions in the United States from 110,000 to 50,000, according to leaked documents. In response, Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, issued the following statement:

“To deprive refugees of safe haven is to scapegoat vulnerable human beings, and to confuse those who flee terror with terror itself. President Trump said himself during his inauguration address that America ‘will shine for everyone to follow.’ We can only pray that other countries do not follow Trump’s example of turning away people trying to flee genocide and persecution. 

“For most of our history, America has welcomed refugees as a strength. However, there have been dark periods, including during the Holocaust, when the United States and other countries shut their doors to millions of innocent people. Instead of finding refuge, they were murdered because of their faith, their opinion, their sexual identity, or their ethnicity. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, America is once again entering a terrible dark period where we choose to fear refugees, rather than to welcome them.

“It’s a deep and tragic irony that Trump is threatening to slam the door in the faces of refugees right before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as the entire refugee convention came out of the Holocaust and the failure of the international community to protect Jews and survivors.

“Refugees are a strength to this country, not a threat. Before being resettled to the United States, each and every refugee is interviewed in depth by the Department of Homeland Security and other officials, fingerprinted, and repeatedly vetted by multiple intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Refugees, who by definition are fleeing dangerous countries, are already subject to ‘extreme vetting’ and are more scrutinized than any other individual entering the United States.

“Donald Trump’s policy of scapegoating and fear runs contrary to the Jewish values of HIAS and our local affiliates in 22 cities1,700+ American rabbis from nearly every state and more than 250 congregations across the country who work every day to show the world, and refugees, that we as a people welcome those seeking safety. HIAS is outraged by the Trump administration’s callous approach to victims of war and terror. We will fight this betrayal of American and Jewish values with every tool at our disposal, because we know all too well the consequences when, rather than rescue and welcome those in need, the U.S. constructs barriers to keep them out.”


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