Today, Oxfam announced the submission of amicus briefs in the United States Court of Appeals in both the Ninth and Fourth Circuits in support of plaintiffs challenging President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on refugees and immigration, stating that the ban risks the lives of potentially tens of thousands of people worldwide and poses a direct threat to Oxfam’s humanitarian mission.
Oxfam has worked in more than 90 countries to end poverty and injustice over the past 70 years. Not only does Oxfam employ staff in four of the six banned countries, but we also provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to refugee camps around the world. Oxfam is alarmed that the executive order severely, irreparably and unnecessarily harms refugee families around the world and international organizations like Oxfam.
“The refugee ban is an affront to the core values of this country and extinguishes the Statue of Liberty’s torch that for decades has welcomed the ‘tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” said Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.
“The ban would separate families, leave people already in the country with difficult choices, and lead others not to visit in the first place. The ban would also prevent organizations like Oxfam from using one of our key educational tools—bringing staff and affected individuals to the United States so they can bear witness to the hardships occurring overseas. These efforts are central to the effectiveness of our work by helping us to support local communities in these countries create lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.” said Mr. Offenheiser.
“Refugees abroad who have waited for years to come to this country will see their dreams indefinitely postponed or erased. Many are now stuck in limbo, forced to repeat exhaustive screening processes again for no identifiable reason. In the meantime, they are left living a life of uncertainty—often with the most minimal of provisions—while they wait to see if, when, and where their future may begin. Even a temporary halt on refugee admissions can mean years of additional waiting due to the complicated and interdependent web of required screenings. Refugees will be sent back to the beginning of the multiple year line, and in some cases many who were on the brink of admission might never make it here at all,” continued Mr. Offenheiser. “The United States has long recognized its moral responsibility to serve as a safe haven for those fleeing violence and persecution in search of freedom and opportunity, and we must uphold those fundamental values.”
The discriminatory Executive Order suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocks citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Monday, May 8 and the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Monday, May 15.
Notes to Editors: Oxfam had previously joined on January 31, 2017 with the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in a lawsuit following President Trump’s first executive order on refugees and immigrants.