Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America said:
“Oxfam vehemently condemns President Trump’s harmful and discriminatory actions today to deny safe refuge for thousands of people who urgently need the help of the United States. Some might call this ‘extreme vetting’ but we call it what it is – extreme injustice. The refugees impacted by today’s decision are among the world’s most vulnerable people- women, children, and men- who are simply trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing unfathomable violence and loss. Instead of affirming the values of the United States by granting safety and protection to refugees, President Trump has broken with more than 40 years of bipartisan American policy – and over 200 years of American tradition - by slamming the door on innocent people in their hour of need.
Suspending the program, slashing the number of refugees the US accepts, and imposing bans on refugees on the basis of their religion, is not only discriminatory, but also unlikely to make Americans safer. President Trump claims that he took these measures to protect our country, but the facts simply do not bear out those claims. National security is not an either or proposition, and critics of our refugee resettlement program should stop peddling untruths and take a hard look at the program, which includes multiple levels of background checks and investigations. Our resettlement program is already the world’s safest and most stringent and it is the most rigorous screening someone who wants to enter this country must undergo. The Executive Order’s suspension of the program will hobble the system and harm the people it is designed to protect. Even a temporary suspension effectively resets the clock for the thousands of vulnerable refugees who have waited years to be granted entry to the US as their medical and security checks expire, forcing them to start the process from scratch.
The provisions that deny admission to visitors and refugees to the US on the basis of religious tests are particularly egregious and an affront to the freedoms we hold dear as Americans. While couched in seemingly-innocuous language about protecting minorities and re-oriented towards countries rather than individuals, both the intent and the outcome of the Executive Order is blatant discrimination against Muslims. Islam is a faith practiced by nearly a quarter of the world’s population and by millions of Americans. Muslim students, workers, and tourists help to grow our economy as well as our understanding of the world. Over the last four decades, the US has safely resettled tens of thousands of Muslim refugees who have not only become US citizens, but who have also enriched our country economically, socially, and culturally.
President Trump must stop this cynical move to exploit fears and perpetuate prejudice about a group of vulnerable people. With more people displaced around the world now than at any point since World War II, now is not the time to succumb to fear based on distortions of the record. As a country founded by immigrants and enriched by all of those who have arrived on our shores since our founding, we have offered safety to hundreds of thousands of people in need from around the world. With support of dozens of mayors and elected officials, Americans are joining with their community groups, churches, synagogues, and mosques to welcome refugees and immigrants into their communities to this day.
We must not forsake these people in their time of need, nor can we forsake what it means to be an American. As Americans we must not close our minds, hearts, or our borders. Oxfam calls on President Trump to immediately rescind this discriminatory and harmful Executive Order so that our country may continue to live up to the noble values upon which it was founded.”