Administration Urged to Resume Processing Refugees as 90-Day Ban Expires
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today calls on the Trump Administration to resume processing of refugees from 11 countries that had been subjected to the president’s 90-day refugee ban, which ended yesterday. The administration has not indicated that it will release a new ban or policy memo.
“We call on the administration to immediately begin processing refugees and to refrain from enacting discriminatory vetting procedures have nothing to do with making America more secure, but only serve to dismantle the refugee resettlement program, the last line of protection for vulnerable men, women, and children,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley. “Between the various iterations of the refugee ban, the administration has essentially had seven months to complete their review of vetting procedures; given that amount of time it is preposterous that they would not begin to admit these individuals for whom resettlement is a matter of life and death.”
Human Rights First notes the refugee ban affects certain groups of refugees who face increased risk of violence and persecution as they await resettlement, including LGBT refugees who often face continued persecution in their country of first asylum. For these refugees, their connections to U.S. resettlement agencies serve as their only lifeline to escape danger. Many Iraqis and their families who served the U.S. military, government, contractors, NGOs, and media, are now in danger due to that service. Congress gave these Iraqis direct access to U.S. resettlement program through the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act because of their relationships with the U.S. military and other U.S. entities. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been waiting for years already to be resettled, in dangerous situations.
The refugee ban also disproportionately cut the number of Muslim refugees admitted to the United States. While the ban was in effect 2,225 Muslim refugees were admitted, of which 1,324 were from the banned countries. During the same seven-month period from the year before, 32,587 Muslim refugees were admitted, 27,397 of whom were from the banned countries.
“The discriminatory intent of the administration’s refugee ban could not be clearer, and is an abdication of the United States’ history as a leader in protecting the persecuted,” added Quigley.
The United States’ refugee vetting procedures—which include extensive and comprehensive interviews as well as multiple rounds of security vetting with a wide array of U.S. and international intelligence and law enforcement agencies—are widely recognized as the most stringent in the world by former U.S. military leaders and former U.S. national security officials, who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations. Former CIA directors, national security advisors, and secretaries of defense, state, and homeland security have explained that resettling refugees advances U.S. national security interests, and that halting refugee resettlement harms U.S. national security.
Resettlement is an important path to protection for a small portion of the world’s most at-risk refugees. It is also a critical tool for advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security interests, supporting front-line states and allies who are hosting the overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees.