There are more refugees in more life threatening situations than ever before. Conflict and persecution have forced more than 65 million people from their homes, including 22.5 million refugees who have crossed an international border.
The Supreme Court ruled on June 26th to uphold parts of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, and suspends travel for refugees who “lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
The Trump Administration’s interpretation of “bona fide relationship” is very narrow, and does not include resettlement agencies, and organizations like RefugePoint. It also does not count grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws, or cousins, as “bona fide relationships”.
The Administration has halted refugee resettlement to the U.S., and is limiting the entry of thousands of refugees who do not have an immediate “bona fide” family member who is already in the U.S.
This interpretation is clearly not in keeping with the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the executive order, which only stipulates that in order to be resettled, a refugee needs to have a relationship with a U.S.-based entity (which we believe should include resettlement agencies and organizations such as RefugePoint that have long-term established relationships with refugees).
The administration knows that many Americans and U.S. residents are anxiously awaiting the resettlement of their refugee aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and other family members. Banning these important and bona fide family members, or mischaracterizing them as not ‘close,’ overlooks and ignores the exceptions outlined by the Supreme Court. For the thousands of orphans and other vulnerable family members stranded in dangerous situations abroad, this guidance may isolate them from the only family they have left.
The administration’s unduly narrow definition of bona fide family is wrong and counterproductive. The United States has recognized the importance of family relationships, beyond just the nuclear family, for refugee families, which have often been ripped apart or decimated by war and persecution. While over half of refugees resettled to the U.S. have family members here, those without family or other US-ties must be granted equal protection as they are subject to the same vulnerabilities and dangers that make their resettlement necessary.
The administration has signaled that they have temporarily halted scheduling any new refugee interviews and other aspects of overseas refugee processing. We believe that individuals with relationships to U.S.-based individuals and entities should still be processed. Each part of the resettlement program is time limited, and so halting overseas processing will likely result in far fewer refugees being resettled next year and into the future. Therefore, the Administration must reinstate the resettlement program as quickly as possible.
RefugePoint works with refugees who have no other options for survival. The suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program puts their lives at risk and is unnecessary. While we work with other countries, such as Canada and Australia, to resettle refugees, the U.S. has historically received the majority of refugees, and this suspension is an unnecessary and extraordinary hardship.
What You Can Do
1.) Make a donation to RefugePoint. Your support will allow us to continue our work of protecting the world’s most at-risk refugees. Even with the suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, our resettlement work with other countries, such as Canada and Australia, continues.
2.) Take Action: Call your Senators and Representatives today! (202) 224-3121
Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I support refugee resettlement. I strongly oppose President Trump’s refugee ban executive order. I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure the administration complies with the Supreme Court decision and recognizes the relationships that refugees have with U.S.-based resettlement agencies. I ask that you urge the administration to change this interpretation, which clearly violates the court order.”
You may also share a personal story about why refugee resettlement is important to you, your community, etc. Let them know the specific ways that refugees contribute and are welcomed into your community.
You can also tweet at your Senators & Representatives: “.@[SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE] Tell the White House to welcome more #refugees in the US & stand against refugee ban EO. #RefugeesWelcome #WithRefugees”