On a day devoted to honoring and celebrating the lives and contributions of refugees, Oxfam America is deeply concerned by the Trump's Administration unprecedented assault on America's legacy of supporting people fleeing persecution in search of safety and a better life for themselves and their families.
As a result of these heartless and discriminatory policies, thousands of people in need of safe haven in the US have been already been turned away; overall refugee admissions are at the lowest level in US history. During the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation, the US has resettled a paltry 13 Syrian refugees in 2018. And the administration has nominated anti-immigration extremist Ronald Mortensen to lead the State Department bureau in charge of refugee protection, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
“Ronald Mortensen’s nomination is a slap in the face to America’s proud and long-standing tradition of welcoming the world’s most vulnerable people. America’s top humanitarian diplomat must reflect our spirit of compassion and partnership; Mortensen simply does not,” said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America Humanitarian Policy Lead.
The discriminatory, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment of the Trump Administration is clear. The U.S. admits a tiny fraction of the world’s refugees – less than one percent. At a time of unprecedented global displacement, the US is on track to resettle just 25,000 refugees this fiscal year – just half of President Trump's historically low admissions ceiling. Over the past year, the administration has implemented new vetting procedures and endless bureaucratic hurdles that have undermined the resettlement process, impacting tens of thousands of vulnerable refugees. Muslim refugees have been particularly impacted, with nearly 90 percent fewer admitted this year than in the past year.
To challenge these affronts to the resettlement program, Oxfam will be bringing refugees from across the country to Washington to raise their voices on Capitol Hill at an interactive and experiential exhibit called Refugee Road. Among the refugee participants are Rep. Ilhan Omar, the trailblazing Minnesota state representative who was the first Somali-American elected to state office. Refugee participants will also spend time advocating for the US resettlement program. Oxfam is calling on Members of Congress to co-sponsor the House and Senate Resolutions commemorating World Refugee Day and calling on Senators to oppose the Mortensen nomination.
“The refugee resettlement program is one of America’s greatest symbols of solidarity and compassion. It has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, through both Republican and Democratic administrations. But over the past two years, however, the Trump Administration has waged an all-out assault on this institution. World Refugee Day is an important day to defend our legacy of providing a lifeline to so many of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Gottschalk said.
Notes to editors: Today Oxfam is also releasing Migration 101, a primer on some the various forms of protection for those seeking safety in the US, including refugees, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and DACA recipients. The document serves as a useful tool for those seeking to understand the US refugee resettlement program, challenges misinformation about refugees, and outlines the steps the US should take to protect the world’s most vulnerable people