Following President Trump’s address before a joint session of Congress, Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America made the following statement:
“Last night President Trump used an opportunity to speak directly to the American people to spread fear rather than facts regarding refugees and immigrants.
“Despite claims by President Trump in his address to Congress, the United States already has the world’s most stringent refugee vetting process; in fact it is still the most rigorous screening someone who wants to enter this country must undergo.
“The US is not a ‘sanctuary for extremists;’ to the contrary it is, and has always been, a sanctuary for the vulnerable, the oppressed, and all those who hold our values close. Over the past 40 years, the US has safely vetted millions of refugees who have gone on to revitalize the communities that welcomed them, weaving deeply into the fabric of the United States.
“We reject the President’s suggestion that we must choose between compassion and security. What is truly reckless is to deny safe refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people, and undermine America’s global standing and reputation in the process.
“We were pleased to hear the President express the importance of creating the conditions for displaced people to return home by ‘creating long-term solutions for these humanitarian disasters.’ But actions speak louder than words. On the same day that President Trump made this commitment, his Administration was seeking historic and devastating budgetary cuts to the very programs that help make those conditions possible.
“Foreign aid represents a fraction of the US budget – around 1% - yet provides a critical life-line to tens of millions of women, men, and children around the world. It is an essential tool in the struggle to counter the violent extremism that Mr. Trump says he wants to fight. This aid also creates the conditions for the return of displaced people that he says he wants to promote.
“President Trump might have talked about American values, but it still remains to be seen whether he is going to put them into practice. In such tumultuous times, we call on the President and Congress to walk the talk of the values they espouse.”