FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 3, 2020
WASHINGTON—Refugee Congress released the following statement in response to the White House’s announcement of an expanded “travel” ban.
“Refugee Congress condemns the Administration’s expanded ‘Travel’ Ban, Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry, as discriminatory and damaging to our communities across the country and to our national identity as a welcoming nation.
The expansion adds six new countries to the list of countries from earlier bans — Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea. It prevents individuals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria from obtaining immigrant visas that can lead to permanent status in the U.S. and eliminates the issuance of “diversity visas” for individuals from Sudan and Tanzania.
The ban unfairly targets individuals based on country of origin and focuses on countries with majority non-white populations and significant Muslim populations.
In addition to impacting potentially vulnerable individuals abroad, the ban harms lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens with origins in the listed countries. It will also block refugees and asylum-seekers from uniting with family members from these countries due to the ban’s restrictions, and it places barriers on individuals from these nations who are seeking safety in the U.S.
Refugee Congress stands against this ban and calls on Congress to support the No Ban Act (S.1123/H.R.2214), which would terminate the Muslim, refugee and asylum bans, and prohibit future discrimination based on country of origin or faith.
We value the diversity of this country and the important contributions of many different races, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. Refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants are valued members of our communities and contribute to the economic, cultural and civic landscape of our nation in so many positive ways.”
Several Refugee Congress Delegates shared their perspectives on the expanded ban:
Biar Atem, Refugee Congress Delegate (Nevada) and Board Member, resettled refugee from South Sudan:
“Refugees like myself are contributing members of our society regardless of our race or religion. The U.S. is a place for protecting refugees: a country that welcomes, and not fears, foreigners.”
Farjam Behnam, Refugee Congress Delegate (Virginia), resettled asylum-seeker from Iran:
“I can understand the security threats the U.S. might face, and I am equally concerned, but I don’t think banning every citizen from these countries is the answer. This great nation has been built by immigrants, and the ban not only hurts the citizens of other countries but will also be a barrier to the growth of the United States of America.”
Clara Hart, Refugee Congress Board Member and Delegate (South Dakota), resettled refugee from Mozambique:
“Adding more restrictions on countries that have large Muslim populations indicates that our Administration is placing a burden on Muslims and that their pain is of no concern. We need to speak out to address this matter.
I am now retired and giving back to my communities through advocacy and volunteerism to many causes in my home state of South Dakota. I am an example of a success story. Without being given a chance for resettlement in the U.S., my story would have had a disastrous ending. I am so grateful to this country for according me a chance to provide for my family and to use my talents to assist those in my community in need of help, whether they are resettled refugees, other migrants or American-born citizens.”
Dauda Sesay, Refugee Congress Delegate (Louisiana), resettled refugee from Sierra Leone:
“I believe America’s success is embedded in our ongoing commitment to welcoming newcomers like me. Our cities and states are healthier when we love our neighbors and promote diversity and inclusion. Our beloved nation prospers when everyone can succeed. This expanded Muslim Ban, which now includes the most populous African nations, violates the United States’ long-standing values of welcoming immigrants and refugees, and upholding freedom of religion.”
Refugee Congress is a nonpartisan advocacy organization built and led by former refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants to promote the well-being, integration and dignity of all vulnerable migrants. With delegates across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we use our voices and experiences to inform and influence decision-makers on critical domestic and international issues that affect our communities. www.refugeecongress.org.