As global criticism mounts on the Executive Order focused on refugees, Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“Oxfam staff work alongside women, men, and children from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and other conflict zones who never know if each day will be their last. Many yearn to be one of the lucky few accepted into refugee resettlement programs that will enable them to restart their lives in peace and security. Last Friday, their hopes were dashed as they heard the United States close its doors as a sanctuary from persecution and violence. Since that moment, Oxfam has been fighting to override the Executive Order on behalf of those refugees with whom we work. We are pursuing legal action to continue this fight.
Oxfam staff and supporters proudly joined demonstrations in cities and airports around the country this past weekend to call on President Trump and elected officials to immediately rescind the Executive Order. This outcry and the dedicated work of our allied organizations led to some initial positive progress particularly for US green card holders, but the Executive Order remains in place. Oxfam remains deeply concerned that the refugees who are among the world’s most vulnerable are not getting the attention and action they so desperately need. The UN estimates that some 20,000 carefully-vetted refugees have been immediately impacted. Tens of thousands more will be left out in the cold by the damage this Order does to the bipartisan refugee resettlement program, specifically refugees fleeing unspeakable terror in Syria who have been indefinitely banned from seeking safety in the US.
Oxfam is also concerned about misinformation on the refugee vetting process; already the world’s most stringent. Refugees are by far the most scrutinized people coming into our country, undergoing multiple levels of background checks and investigations. Calls for additional ‘extreme vetting’ are an extreme injustice that do not make our country safer but do weaken America’s global reputation as a safe haven for the oppressed.
The Executive Order also hurts hundreds of thousands of people around the world who depend on Oxfam’s lifesaving assistance. As a global organization with a diverse workforce, operating in over 90 countries around the world, the travel bans and growing number of reciprocal measures in response to the Order will prohibit us from effectively and safely delivering aid, supporting local organizations on the frontlines of meeting humanitarian need, and providing critical analysis to US policy makers on conditions in some of the world’s most vulnerable places directly from the people living and working on the ground. It’s a huge step backwards for refugees, for our global workforce, and for our relationships beyond this country’s borders.”