Oxfam condemns President Trump’s latest attempt to slam the door on vulnerable refugees

The unprecedented 120 day closure of the refugee resettlement program poses a real threat to the lives of refugees. Given the multiple, overlapping and time-sensitive medical and security screens imposed by the process, refugees effectively have only a two month window to travel once their screens are complete before screens begin to expire.

March 6, 2017

Ottawa – Oxfam condemns President Trump’s latest effort to slam the door on refugees by signing yet another Executive Order denying safe refuge for the tens of thousands of people who urgently need the help of the United States. This repackaged ban is another affront to the world’s most vulnerable people and to the core values of the United States.

President Trump’s action today follows a nationwide outcry from tens of thousands of Americans and the legal defeat of his earlier Executive Order in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But instead of responding to the outcry of Americans, President Trump chose to double down on his attacks on our nation’s successful, bipartisan refugee resettlement program. The unprecedented 120 day closure of the refugee resettlement program poses a real threat to the lives of refugees. Given the multiple, overlapping and time-sensitive medical and security screens imposed by the process, refugees effectively have only a two month window to travel once their screens are complete before screens begin to expire. The shutdown of the program essentially resets the clock and sends thousands of refugees already vetted by our nation’s security experts back to the end of the line. Given the peril in which refugees live this is extra time that many simply do not have.

President Trump claims that he took these measures to protect our country, but the facts simply do not bear out those claims. National security is not an either or proposition, and critics of our refugee resettlement program should stop spreading misinformation and take a hard look at the program which is already the world’s safest and most stringent. The program is the most rigorous screening someone who wants to enter this country must undergo. Refugees must go through dozens of checks and interviews by our nation’s top security and counter-terror experts sometimes lasting over two years. The resettlement process is a well-tuned machine with hundreds of moving parts, not a light switch that can be turned off and on. Stopping the process for even a few months will not make us any safer; instead it will cause massive harm to tens of thousands of people.

The administration claims that this new Executive Order will stand up to legal scrutiny, but this action is just as offensive as the original and will certainly be subject to a whole new round of legal action across the country.

Make no mistake; this new Executive Order is an attack on vulnerable refugees and the values of the United States. By slamming the door on innocent people in their hour of need, President Trump is choosing to forsake these vulnerable people and forsake what it means to be an American.

While south of the border Oxfam is calling on Congress to listen to the people, stand up to the President, and uphold American values by opposing all versions of this harmful and discriminatory Executive Order immediately; here in Canada you can tell PM Justin Trudeau that you stand with refugees.

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Contact information

Melanie Gallant, Media Officer, Oxfam Canada
melanie.gallant@oxfam.org