Washington Week on Human Rights: March 6, 2017

Revised Refugee Ban

President Trump today signed a new executive order suspending the refugee resettlement program, and banning the issuance of new visas and entry to the United States to nationals of six Muslim-majority countries. The order, which revises an earlier attempt to ban individuals from the United States that has been rejected by federal courts, will continue to damage U.S. national security and global leadership. While the new order removes language prioritizing and providing exceptions for religious minorities, does not specify an “indefinite” ban on resettlement of Syrian refugees, and deletes Iraq from the list of targeted countries, it will ban all refugee resettlement for at least 120 days. National security experts have confirmed that suspending the resettlement program is unnecessary to enhancing security checks and undermines American leadership with key allies in the Middle East.

Tillerson Absent from Human Rights Report Launch

Friday the State Department launched its annual human rights reports without the participation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Traditionally, the annual submission to Congress of the Human Rights Report is accompanied by a public unveiling, including remarks from the secretary of state or other senior official. The Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices indexes abuses and advances in terms of individual, civil, political, and worker rights globally. The report is widely regarded as a powerful tool to hold human rights violators accountable and to document the progress of nations towards respecting the dignity of their citizens. Secretary Tillerson’s decision to abandon this longstanding practice is indicative of a broader trend of tabling support for human rights as an essential pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

“Halting the resettlement of all refugees, including Syrians, is not just cruel, but it also plays into the hands of ISIS and other extremists who thrive on the message that the United States is anti-Muslim. Refugees are rigorously vetted through a long process involving thorough checks by multiple security agencies, and any needed changes can continue to be made without a need to suspend the entire process.”

—Matthew G. Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

The Washington Post, Reuters, and Politico report on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s noticeable absence from this year’s release of the State Department’s annual human rights report.

The Birmingham Times writes about how Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier Carter is planning to fight human trafficking in Alabama.

The Portland Press Herald features commentary from retired Naval Commander Daniel Dolan on how refugees help define America.

The New York Times writes about the mistreatment of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. southern border.

The Bay Area Reporter reports on the State Department’s reaction to a recent string of horrifying murders of transgender women in El Salvador.

Tuesday, March 7

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold nomination hearings for the Honorable Rod Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General and the Honorable Rachel Brand to be Associate Attorney General. 10:00 AM, Dirksen Senate Office Building 226.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will hold a hearing entitled, “Russian Policies & Intentions Toward Specific European Countries.” The hearing will feature testimony by The Honorable Valeriy Chaly, Ukrainian Ambassador; The Honorable Piotr Wilczek, Polish Ambassador; The Honorable David Bakradze, Georgian Ambassador; The Honorable Andris Teikmanis, Latvian Ambassador; The Honorable Rolandas Krisciunas, Lithuanian Ambassador; The Honorable Eerik Marmei, Estonian Ambassador. 2:15 PM, Dirksen Senate Office Building 192C.

Monday, March 6

The Wilson Center will hold an event entitled, “The 1930’s as an Inspiration for Today’s New Authoritarianism.” The event will feature Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. 3:00 PM, Woodrow Wilson Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a confirmation hearing for Senator Dan Coats to be Director of National Intelligence. 2:00 PM, 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Tuesday, March 7

The Atlantic Council will hold an event entitled, “US-Mexico: Trade, Security and Prosperity.” The event will feature Margarita Zavala, Mexican Presidential candidate; Michael Chertoff, Former US Secretary of Homeland Security. 9:00 AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Atlantic Council will hold an event entitled, “The Putin Exodus: The New Russian Brain Drain.” The event will feature Evgenia Chirikova, Russian environmentalist; Mikhail Kokorich, President and Co-Founder of Astro Digital, Inc.; Dr. Sergei Erofeev, Consultant from Rutgers University; Dr. Alina Polyakova, Deputy Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. 4:00 PM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 9

The Institute for World Politics will hold an event entitled, “Trump’s Russia Policy After Flynn.” The event will feature Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Professor of History at IWP. 4:30 PM, Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Friday, March 10

The Atlantic Council will hold an event entitled, “European Economic Growth and its Importance to American Prosperity.” The event will feature Stuart Eizenstat, Former Ambassador to the European Union; Andrew Montanino, Director of Global Business and Economics at the Atlantic Council; Andrus Ansip, Vice President of the European Commission; Olivier Blancard, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Xavier Rolet, CEO of London Stock Exchange; Poul Thomsen, Director of the European Department at the IMF; Gordon Bajnai, Former Prime Minister of Hungary; Jose Manuel Barroso, Former European Commission President; Paula Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs; Raymond McDaniel Jr., CEO of Moody’s Corporation. 9:00 AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Middle East Institute will hold an event entitled, “US Policy Options in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The event will feature Shamila Chaudhary, Senior South Asia Fellow at SAIS; Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation; Ambassador Daniel Feldman from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; Jack Gill, Associate Professor at the National Defense University. 12:00 PM, Middle East Institute, 1319 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C.


Published on March 6, 2017


Seeking asylum?

If you do not already have legal representation, cannot afford an attorney, and need help with a claim for asylum or other protection-based form of immigration status, we can help.