In response to new consular guidance released by the Trump Administration today following the Supreme Court’s travel ban ruling, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor Noah Gottschalk issued the following statement:
“The Trump Administration’s narrow definition of a ‘bona fide relationship’ is harmful and discriminatory, and effectively slams the door closed on countless refugees until the Supreme Court reviews the ban in the fall. The new harsh restrictions fly in the face of the core purpose of America’s refugee resettlement program and our nation’s founding values.
Offering oppressed people refuge from violence and persecution is at the heart of these values. For four decades, our bipartisan refugee resettlement program has offered safe haven to hundreds of thousands of refugees based solely on their urgent need for protection and their successful completion of the world's most rigorous security vetting program, not on whether they know anyone in the US. The Trump administration's new guidance forsakes this tradition of assisting vulnerable people based on their need, and instead forces us to assist people based solely on who they know.
This third version of the ban prohibits grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws and fiancés from being reunited with their families here in the US. All Americans can surely recognize how important these familial relationships are in our own lives, and realize how unduly harsh these limitations are for families around the world. Not only are families cut off from each other, but official US refugee resettlement agencies who in many cases have been working with refugees for multiple years now are no longer considered ‘bona fide.’
Refugees who have fled for their lives and spent years seeking safety are now trapped in legal limbo as they await news on the fate of the ban. Many, who have already waited years complying with the rules and procedures of the complex and stringent US security vetting process, are now left at the whim of bureaucratic interpretations and changes. Vulnerable people around the world are watching as their hopes to find safety in the US quickly fade. For people who have already experienced so much suffering, this legal limbo just adds insult to injury.
These new rules must be immediately rescinded and replaced with new guidance based on compassionate common sense so that families can be reunited and our country can live up to the noble values on which it was founded.”