No more refugees. None at all. That’s what the Trump administration now proposes.
Trump doesn’t know or care anything about refugees, as he showed in this week’s Oval Office meeting with Nadia Murad and others who suffered religious persecution in their home countries. Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize as the first woman to speak out after being raped and tortured and then escaping from ISIS captivity.
“Murad, who now lives in Germany, told him she never wanted to be a refugee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.
“Where are they now?” Trump asked.
“They killed them,” she repeated. “They are in the mass grave in Sinjar, and I’m still fighting just to live in safety.”
“I know the area very well that you’re talking about,” Trump responded.
Not only in his personal reaction (watch the video of his interaction with Murad here), but also in his policies, Trump demonstrates total rejection of refugees.
U.S. law gives the president legal authority to set the refugee ceiling every year—the maximum number of refugees that can be admitted to the United States. In 2019, Trump lowered that ceiling to 30,000, the lowest number ever set. The total number admitted in 2019 will be less than that, possibly around 22,000, or about the same number admitted in 2018. Before Trump, the average number of refugees admitted each year was 95,000.
The administration has until September 30 to officially set the ceiling for the year, “in consultation with Congress,” which means little or nothing these days. Still—there’s some time to flood the White House, the State Department, and Congress with phone calls and messages telling them that we want to remain a nation that welcomes and offers safe haven to refugees.
For what it’s worth, also take time to send a comment opposing the administration’s latest move to shut down asylum. The regulation issued on Monday orders that asylum seekers who pass through a third country must first apply for asylum in that country and wait for a decision before applying in the United States. That will prevent all refugees coming to our southern border, except for Mexican citizens, from legally asking for asylum here, as is their right under longstanding U.S. law. The regulation violates not only U.S. asylum law but also all international covenants and standards protecting persecuted asylum seekers. You can file a public comment here.
Does it do any good to call and send messages and make public comments?
YES, it does.
Despite the administration’s worst impulses and efforts, blasts of public opposition have moderated some past policy proposals. While these “moderated” policies are still awful, but they are less awful than the original proposals.
A more important effect of calling and sending messages and making public comments is the effect on ourselves and those around us. We must continue to exercise the muscle of resistance, standing up and fighting back every single time in every way we can find.
Resistance is not only about overcoming evil, but about doing what is right for the sake of our own integrity.