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Washington, D.C. 19 June 2018 – The United States has long offered a safe haven to people fleeing violence, oppression, and persecution. Offering safety and security to refugees is more than a lifesaving humanitarian intervention, it enriches our economy and acceptance of those from different cultural backgrounds. As Pope Francis has said “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ” and called us all to welcome, promote, protect, and integrate refugees and migrants. Instead, the U.S. Government’s response is in retreat and has blocked the entry of thousands of refugees.

This year, the US has resettled the fewest number of refugees in all of the resettlement program’s history. The policies of the current Administration have made it so that fewer and fewer people seeking refuge can come to the U.S. these policies include putting a cap on the number of refugees at 45,000 – the lowest level in U.S. history and a number that is unlikely to be reached. Further halting resettlement have been the “travel bans” which  blocked the entry of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries— Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and a smaller number of North Koreans and Venezuelans. The administration has also implemented unnecessary hurdles as part of the refugee vetting process – an already lengthy and thorough process.

These policies have had a particular impact on refugees from Syria. Fewer than 50 Syrians have been admitted into the United States to seek protection through resettlement since October 2017. By comparison, in 2016, the United States admitted 15,479 Syrians. The Administration’s actions which have slowed the resettlement of Syrian refugees is both a disheartening symbol of an unwelcoming environment and a policy with harmful effects on the lives of individuals, those who have already endured much suffering.

Refugees have felt the real consequences of these policies. One Syrian refugee, a 13-year old who was able to be resettled, calls for policy makers to put an end to these policies.

“I wanted [to let you know] about the travel ban proposed by President Trump that would have stopped people from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan from coming to U.S.A.   This is important to me because when I lived in Syria I was unsafe and unhappy. I had no basic food and water and no education. It is an important human right to live without war and violence. Please keep children like me and my brother and sisters in mind when you are considering this ban. Thank you all for reading my letter.”

JRS/USA continues to oppose the Travel ban and policies like it and urge the Administration to recognize refugees as our brothers and sisters who need our protection and compassion. It is JRS’s mission to accompany, serve, and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced people. We take a personalized approach to our work, recognizing the dignity in every person we serve, we hope that our government will do the same. 

For this World Refugee Day, June 20, 2018, JRS/USA is asking you, our friends and supporters, to join us in calling on the President to stand with and support our Syrian brothers and sisters. Help us remind him and the Administration that we continue to have a responsibility to take humanitarian action during this crisis.   

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