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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

LIRS Opposes Expansion of the Travel Ban

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LIRS Staff

January 31, 2020

LIRS Strongly Opposes The Expansion of Travel Ban Restrictions

Contact: Tim Young | | 443-257-6310

Baltimore, MD – On January 31, the Trump administration announced the expansion of its controversial Travel Ban, which currently restricts entry into the United States to nationals of seven countries, to include six additional countries: Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Sudan and Burma (also known as Myanmar). If allowed to stand, the restrictions could impact refugee arrivals from the affected countries.

“We are particularly concerned about Burmese refugees who may see America’s doors closed to them at a time of desperate need – including thousands of ethnic Chin, Karen, and Muslim Rohingya, who have fled severe persecution,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the nation.  “Nearly 5,000 Burmese refugees started to rebuild their lives in America last year, many of whom seek to reunite with family still in harm’s way.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the third anniversary of the original travel ban, which targets primarily Muslim-majority countries. The seven countries that were first impacted by these restrictions were Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela.

“This policy has been devastating to thousands of men, women, and children whose only beacon of hope is the safety and prosperity that America can offer,” said Vignarajah. “How can we look at ourselves in the mirror knowing that we are doing less and less, especially when an unprecedented global refugee crisis calls for swift, bold action from the world’s humanitarian leader?”

Earlier this week, Senator Blumenthal introduced an important resolution calling on Congress to defund the Migrant Protection Protocols and urges the President to restore refugee resettlement to historic norms. It also calls for the enactment of the NO BAN Act (S.1123), which would terminate the refugee, Muslim, and asylum bans and make it harder to discriminate against individuals based on country of nationality and religion.

“We are grateful to leaders who are trying to mitigate and prevent the damage these policies have done and restore our role as one of the leading advocates for protections for all vulnerable people, regardless of their country of origin,” said Vignarajah. “We will continue to hope, pray, and act to ensure that America remains the best hope for freedom in this world.”

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