Q&A: Info about the January 27th executive order related to refugees and immigrants
As a result of President Donald Trump’s January 27th executive order (EO) misleadingly titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” RefugePoint has received many inquiries asking how this affects our work and how supporters can help. Here are a few quick Q&A’s regarding the recent EO and its impacts:
1. How exactly does the executive order impact refugees?
- It suspends all new refugee arrivals to the U.S. for 120 days
- It reduces the overall number of refugees who are able to enter the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000
- It halts Syrian refugee admissions until further notice
While some have argued in favor of a temporary “pause” on the resettlement program while the vetting process is investigated, RefugePoint maintains that such a suspension is unnecessary, harmful to refugees and the program at large, and is a departure from America’s welcoming values. We have full confidence in the extremely rigorous vetting process already in place and if the new Administration does not, they may review it without halting the program. Due to the need to align validity periods of multiple security checks and medical exams before arrival, many refugees who are already set to come here will now spend many months or years (not 4 months) waiting to redo many parts of the process. This suspension places at least 60K people who had already been fully vetted in immediate and significant danger.
2. How does the EO impact RefugePoint’s work?
We continue to resettle at-risk refugees. While Trump’s EO bars refugee entry into the US, it does not halt all resettlement activities globally. Our Resettlement and Child Protection Experts are still at work in their duty stations across Africa. We are exploring how to redirect some of our emergency cases to other countries with which we work.
Refugee resettlement is an important gesture of responsibility sharing with the countries that host the majority of refugees such as Turkey, Lebanon, Kenya and others. Despite the relatively small numbers of refugees resettled to the US each year, resettlement encourages the front-line countries to keep their borders open to refugees escaping conflict at home, and in many ways broadens the scope of human rights for refugees globally. Simply put, it is an important tool in our diplomatic toolbox and has been a source of unwavering bipartisan pride and US leadership over the past 36 years.
We continue to improve the lives of refugees who cannot resettle. In 2015, fewer than 2% of the 21 million refugees in the world were able to resettle or return to their home countries. The vast majority of refugees remain stuck in their host countries indefinitely, typically without basic rights or the ability to earn a living legally. The average length of refugee exile is approaching 20 years. RefugePoint’s Urban Refugee Stabilization Program in Nairobi, Kenya offers a range of holistic services to help refugees recover their health, get children into school, and build livelihoods to support themselves. Thanks to our private funding and lack of reliance on US government funding, we can still help refugees escape unsafe situations and achieve a better quality of life while awaiting a durable solution. As the US curtails its resettlement program, options like these are more important than ever.
3. How is RefugePoint reacting to the EO?
We are working with our peers to denounce the EO and mitigate its effects. As a member of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) — a coalition of 23 agencies dedicated to refugee protection and resettlement — we are participating in an organized, collective response and advocacy strategy. Our unique positioning allows us to supply critical information to this coalition on how the EO is impacting our clients who are in various stages of processing for resettlement to the U.S.
4. How can I help? Here are a few action steps that you can take:
- Donate to RefugePoint so that we can continue to help refugees. With your support, we will continue to protect their lives in every way possible.
- Learn the facts to better understand the refugee resettlement and vetting process. Informative op-eds from RefugePoint staff and board members include: USA Today: Trump Refugee Order Makes the World Worse. The Brookings Institution: Disastrous ripple effects of Trump’s executive action on refugee resettlement. Washington Post: America already uses strict vetting. Here are the facts.
- Become more familiar with the already extremely rigorous refugee vetting process: https://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/admissions/. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states
- Share our updates on Facebook and Twitter. Encourage friends to sign up for our mailing list to grow our community.
- Act! RCUSA has put together a wonderful resource page full of suggested action steps. This page has info about how to call the White House, how to call your Senators and Representatives, suggested social media posts, talking points for when you make your calls, and lots of links to additional resources.
- Let people know where you stand on this issue. Place a “Refugees Welcome” sign in the window of your home, office or business. Small acts of welcome in your community can make a big difference. Let our immigrant and refugee neighbors know we stand behind them.