Washington, DC – Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) is deeply troubled to learn of the Administration’s latest extension of its discriminatory bans. On January 31st, just days after the three year anniversary of the President’s first sweeping Muslim ban, the Administration announced that individuals from Nigeria, Burma, Eritrea, and Kyrgyzstan would not be permitted to obtain immigration visas. And further, individuals from Tanzania and Sudan would be barred from receiving a “diversity visa”. All of these nations are majority non-white, and most have significant Muslim populations – including Kyrgyzstan and Sudan with Muslim populations over 90%.
Our world has become globalized, with thousands of people traveling for education, work, love and safety. These bans harm US relations abroad, and families, individuals, and communities both around the world and here at home. The right to move freely within and between countries is a fundamental human right; one which is threatened when governments ban whole nations of persons from lawful immigration pathways.
While the ban does not apply to individuals from these nations who are approved for admission to the United States via the refugee resettlement program, it will directly impact resettled refugees and others who are using their lawful permanent residence or US citizenship status to apply for visas for family members to join them who are now banned. This expanded policy will certainly crush many more families’ hopes of being reunited.
Scott Roehm, RCUSA board chair and Washington, DC office director for the Center for Victims of Torture stated: “The harsh consequences associated with doubling down on a policy that has devastated families speak for themselves. And for what? Expanding the Muslim ban doesn’t make us safer; it’s just another act of discrimination cloaked in the rhetoric of security. This proclamation—like the myriad anti-refugee and anti-immigration policies that have preceded it—is anathema to what actually makes our country strong: diversity, tolerance, community, and compassion.”
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