The U.S. has a long, cherished tradition of granting refuge to those fleeing persecution. Accepting over 70,000 refugees per year, it has long been the global resettlement leader. In a world where over 21 million people are forced to seek protection outside their countries of origin and where forced migrants drown in the seas and freeze to death in the cold every day, halting refugee admissions now is particularly untimely and cruel.

Wednesday’s Executive Order suspending U.S. migration for most refugees will have a direct impact on vulnerable displaced populations around the world and in the Middle East in particular. It will add to the extraordinarily long wait which many refugees must endure on their journey to safety.

Suspending the U.S. refugee program will also hurl hundreds of thousands of refugees into throes of desperation. It will directly encourage displaced populations to undertake perilous journeys in search of subsistence and safety. These irregular paths often involve illegal border crossing, human traffickers, smugglers and severe human rights violations.

ORAM is also concerned that cutting U.S. refugee admissions will deeply undermine the trust which resettlement governments and refugees alike place in the refugee system. The voluntary agencies across the U.S. which work tirelessly to assist resettled refugees struggle to survive on meager budgets and overworked staff. Once their capacity to perform their work is diminished, it may never return.

Suspension of the US refugee program also shuns the U.S.’ longstanding commitment to its allies to share ‘the burden’ of accepting refugees. It erodes U.S. global leadership, as it places enormous pressure on the already teetering wavering asylum systems of Western Europe and countries in the Global South.

The Executive Order is based on a false premise that resettled forced migrants bring with them danger and insecurity. In fact, the U.S. refugee system already enjoys an extremely tough and remarkably effective multi-agency security check apparatus.

Anti-refugee speech will invariably stir xenophobia and polarization. Stigmatization and cruel migration policies will not make the U.S. a safer place. On the contrary, as we inject distrust and suspicion into our social fiber, we make our cities and our homes even more dangerous.

ORAM urges the Administration to rethink this dangerous policy decision and to extend protection to the world most vulnerable refugees. In the meantime, it is incumbent upon our government to show our leadership by protecting vulnerable refugees in perilous countries of transit.

 

ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration