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United States sees steep decline in refugee arrivals

By Oxfam
Safe on shore, refugees who made it to the Greek island of Lesbos in February 2016 plan for the next step of their long trek to safety. Already many have endured a harrowing journey, paying traffickers up to 1,000 Euros per person for the passage. Photo: Pablo Tosco

The number of refugee arrivals in the United States has fallen dramatically since October.

According to a new study by Pew Research Center, the United States has seen a sharp decline in refugee arrivals in all but four states since October. Monthly arrivals decreased from 9,945 in October 2016 to 3,316 in April 2017, with an all-time low of 2,070 in March. October through March marked the longest consecutive decrease in monthly arrivals ever recorded. Additionally, the states that have historically received the highest number of refugees have seen the greatest drop. Though President Trump’s travel ban has been continually blocked in court, its effects are already being felt.

“The sharp decline in the number of refugees resettled in fiscal year 2017 is a direct result of the Trump Administration's discriminatory executive orders,” said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor. “The numbers in Pew Research Center’s report don't lie: although two versions of the ban have been temporarily blocked by the courts, the administration has slowed the resettlement program dramatically, leaving thousands of the world's most vulnerable people in a state of legal limbo.”

Even with the recent Fourth Court decision block the travel ban, we have seen the Trump Administration significantly slow the speed at which they are processing resettlement requests. This purposeful slow down defies judicial rulings and the will of the people. Meanwhile refugees around the world who had pinned their hopes on finding safety in the US are facing growing uncertainty about their futures. For people who have already experienced so much suffering, this legal limbo just adds insult to injury.

“Refugees who are fleeing unimaginable violence, persecution, and loss are now watching their hopes for starting new lives in safety in the United States fade away as President Trump’s administration fights to slam the door shut,” said Gottschalk. “As Americans, we must open our hearts and doors to innocent people in search of refuge so that our country can live up to the noble values upon which this great country was founded.”

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