Refugees

You have likely heard the news regarding President Trump’s new executive order.  Since I have written about elephant refugees (Dec 23, 2016) on this blog, I thought I’d use a post today to discuss human refugees.

Why is President Trump doing this?

The executive order says:

“In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.”

What else does the executive order say?

Here are three key excerpts:

“I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries…would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.”

“The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.”

“I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States”

What have been the effects so far?

Some have already been stopped at airports, including green card holders.  Families are separated.  Dual citizens feel in limbo.  Lawsuits from groups such as the ACLU will be forthcoming.  Countries specially named in the ban by administration officials (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia) will likely respond with reciprocal policy changes.  For example, countries such as Iraq have many US contract workers who may be affected.

What are some long term effects?

Diplomatic relations or anti-terrorism co-efforts are likely to be highly strained.  US intelligence will have a more difficult time getting reliable information.  Other predominantly Muslim countries will be wary of US intentions.  Many citizens of predominantly Muslim countries will distrust US intentions, even more than they have previously.  Extremist groups may exploit the ban for their own gain, using it as propaganda for anti-Western intentions.

Muslim Americans will fear facing more discrimination.  Current green card holders, student visa holders, and work visa holders will fear their future plans are in jeopardy.

Most tragically and immediate, refugees’ lives have become even more difficult.  In 2016, over 12000 Syrian refugees came to the US fleeing the brutality of President Assad, ISIS, and rebel groups – fleeing air-dropped bombs, chemical weapons, suicide bombers, brutal killings, lack of medical treatment and starvation.  They have been in overcrowded camps – cold, hungry, and unwanted.

Why should we care?

The paragraphs above help explain why we should care.

The US vetting of refugees is already tightly controlled and complex, often taking two years.  Lately we have taken far fewer refugees from countries such as Syria compared to other Western countries.

As BBC noted, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from the seven countries named, nor have any terrorist attacks in the US post-9/11 been linked to extremists with origins in those countries.

The US has long been seen as a beacon of hope for refugees.  That light is now dimmed, and that should matter to us all.  Temporary actions can lead to long term consequences.

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