RCUSA Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order to Suspend the US Refugee Resettlement Program, Reduce Overall Refugee Admissions, and Ban Syrians

Washington, DC- January 27, 2017

Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition dedicated to refugee protection and welcome, representing hundreds of thousands of refugees and their millions of supporters and volunteers across the country, stands in firm opposition to President Trump’s Executive Order. Among other things, we believe that this Executive Order will suspend the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days; ban the arrival of Syrian refugees; and, reduce the overall number of refugees who will enter the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000. It will also attempt to allow those who oppose resettlement to determine who is allowed to be welcomed to their communities. This Executive Order is not just about refugees, it is about who we are as a country. America, long the beacon of freedom and hope to millions of people around the world, has taken a giant step back today.

Hans Van de Weerd, Chair of RCUSA states “We are concerned that this policy change would keep tens of thousands of refugees from the protection they desperately need. We also fear that this Executive Order could not only pause all resettlement, but could also undermine resettlement in the future. Our members intend to work with the new Administration, as we have with Republican and Democratic Administrations for the last 36 years, to ensure that the American tradition of resettling refugees from around the world continues. We also remain committed to our resettlement program that is safe for refugees and safe for the U.S. communities that welcome them.”

The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is a critical tool for achieving our humanitarian goals, promoting our economic interests, and enhancing our national security. Furthermore, this Executive Order will not make us any safer. Instead, it will undermine our country’s national security by feeding the rhetoric of those who falsely depict the United States as a closed society. Our long legacy of American leadership in welcoming refugees sends an undeniable message that the United States remains a leading force for stability and liberty, that it upholds the principle of family reunification, that it extends protection to those who risk their lives to support our overseas efforts, and that Americans do not discriminate based on religion.

We encourage the Trump Administration to move forward in a bipartisan spirit during this time of review and also when the program resumes, particularly in dealing with extremely vulnerable refugees such as at-risk women and children and those with severe medical conditions.  We very much urge that Syrians be included for US resettlement after the four-month review period, as they are among the most vulnerable of the world’s refugees.