iACT Stands #WithRefugees

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iACT believes in human dignity, and we work to build programs #WithRefugees that help them reclaim the dignity lost as they fled targeted violence in their home countries and settled in refugee camps. Since 2005, we’ve worked with refugees from Sudan who fled violence in Darfur and settled in refugee camps in eastern Chad.

We have walked with them through the hot sand as they gave us a tour of what one refugee described as an “open prison” with few chances for true opportunity to thrive and recover. We have held babies who were born in clinics with nothing more than a mosquito net and a cot. We have played soccer with the youth, who laughed when I, a girl, scored a goal on their fellow peers. We have seen hope in the form of sport and education. We have laughed, hugged, cried, and experienced true joy and friendship with our friends from Sudan.

On Friday, January 27, 2017, only seven days after his inauguration, President Donald Trump issued an Executive order on “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” that:

1. Bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days. The Executive order bars all people hailing from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — at least 134 million people, based on 2013 World Bank census data — from entering the United States. This includes those with: visitor visas, temporary worker visas, fiancé visas, exchange students or trainee visas, educational and cultural exchange programs or tourist visas, and visas for spouses and children of permanent residents. Immediately, people who were en route with visas, including two men who served with the U.S. government as translators in Iraq, were detained as their flights arrived at airports across the country.

(Unfolding story: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in a Brooklyn court against the Trump administration. The court has ruled that airport officials cannot send refugees and others trapped at airports across the United States back to their home countries. The government must also release the names of the people being held at airports, which is estimated to number 100-200. This is a temporary stay and does not extend to the rest of the Executive order.)

2. Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a 30-day review to determine which countries do not provide “adequate information” for its citizens to be issued visas to enter the United States.

3. Stops the refugee resettlement program in the United States for at least 120 days. It also states that refugees from the religious minority in the country from which they are fleeing be given priority. This prioritizes Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries to be accepted over Muslims fleeing the same country.

4. Decreases the number of refugees the U.S. eventually takes in from 110,000 to 50,000. Here is a breakdown of refugees resettled in the United States in 2015 (numbers are not available for 2016), of whom the largest group is Cuban.

5. Suspends refugees from Syria altogether, claiming, “that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry.” The Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, says that Syrians do not pose a serious security threat. We have not heard of a case of a resettled Syrian refugee committing an act of terrorism on U.S. soil (those who carried out the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon, none of which are mentioned in the ban). You can read a quick overview of Syrian resettlement in this TIME article (note this is from July 2016).

6. Calls for the U.S. Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI Director to develop and implement new immigration screening procedures. The U.S. has a rigorous screening process that takes anywhere from 12 months to several years. Read the personal story of Linda J., a Syrian refugee living in Baltimore, to learn more. We have seen families in the refugee camps in eastern Chad waiting in limbo for more than seven years in this process. The day that this EO was handed down, Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad received notice that their next screening interviews were canceled. Learn more about the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the process people go through to be resettled.

People across the United States are standing up. We stand #withrefugees, and we ask you to do the same. Here are a few resources and actions:

1. Speak out on social media with the hashtag #WithRefugees. You can also use it to search for local demonstrations that are appearing all over the country. Get involved. Reach out to refugee and immigrant friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

2. Sign the petition to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging President Trump to revoke the ban on refugees.

3. Call your local senators and representatives and tell them we must not turn away those fleeing persecution.

4. Share the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s (ADC’s) Executive Order Toolkit with those whom you think need help.

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#withrefugees #refugees #Trump