March 6, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) adamantly opposes the Trump Administration’s new executive order that temporarily suspends the refugee resettlement program for four months and continues the travel ban previously imposed on individuals from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. While the new version of the executive order eliminates the language that specifically targeted Syrian refugees for an indefinite period of time, and no longer includes a blanket ban on citizens from Iraq, this executive order is still a poorly disguised effort to ban refugees from majority Muslim countries.
“While it appears that the Administration has sought to correct some of the flaws contained in the first executive order, this newly issued one still prevents us from undertaking life saving work during the most critical time for refugees and displaced persons in human history,” said Linda Hartke, President and CEO of LIRS. “The new order doubles down on demonizing refugees – implying that America should fear those who have been persecuted, tortured, threatened, and victimized by terrorists. America is diminished when we abandon our values and close our doors.”
Although the newly issued order does allow exemptions for Special Immigrant Visa holders and Lawful Permanent Residents, the Administration’s plans to drastically reduce the total number of refugees allowed into the U.S. for FY 2017 – from 110,000 to 50,000 – remains deeply concerning. As of this week, over 37,000 refugees have already arrived here in the U.S., which means that very few refugees, who have already gone through the extensive vetting process, will have the opportunity to come to the U.S. before the cap is reached.
“Reviewing the intensive process utilized to vet refugees is certainly the prerogative of any new Administration,” continues Hartke. “But there is no credible reason to halt the refugee resettlement program, even just temporarily, while this review takes place. Pausing the refugee resettlement program, and reducing the number of refugees resettled over this fiscal year, puts vulnerable families fleeing violence and persecution at increased risk.”
“Had the new executive order been in place last month, it would likely have prevented LIRS from reuniting Mushkaad Abdi, a 4-year old Somali refugee who was alone in Kampala, Uganda, with her mother and sisters in Minneapolis. To close our nation’s doors on those who are simply seeking safety and protection is shameful and misguided.”
Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.