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Committee on Migration Responds to Refugee and Muslim Ban in US

Shortly after instating a refugee resettlement program in 1980, the United States established itself as a leader in refugee resettlement. Though all refugee applicants must endure an arduous, two-year screening process before being referred for resettlement in the US, the most recent statistics indicate that the US actually accepts two-thirds of
the world’s refugees who are referred for resettlement. For this reason, the US government’s late-January Executive Order, which suspended its resettlement program, created a wave of deep concern that quickly spurred advocates across the US and across the globe to protest the decision. At the UN, the NGO Committee on Migration set to work writing a letter of support for migrants and refugees in, or seeking entry to, the US. The letter described the undue physical, psychological, social, and economic trauma this sudden,  major policy shift caused and prolonged against some of the world’ most vulnerable people. It also addressed the fact that the second part of the Executive Order, a call for the suspension of US visas for all holders of passports from seven majority-Muslim nations, was a thinly veiled Muslim Ban and an outrageous violation of the right to religious freedom. The letter was signed by 75 UN-accredited NGOs and sent to the permanent UN representative of every UN Member State, the President of the UN General Assembly, the heads of the UN agencies overseeing refugees and human rights, and the UN Secretary General. It called on them to denounce this policy move and to resist similar initiatives within their respective administrations.

Due to a series of judicial appeals filed by various lower courts in the US, the Executive Order has been suspended for the time being. Since then, however, the US Executive has issued a new series of orders which are more complex and whose implications are not as easily deflated as the original order. The NGO Committee on Migration has reached out to immigration policy and immigration law professionals to assist our migrant advocate community in understanding these new policies at our next Committee meeting. We will then be better equipped to formulate a plan of action suited to these latest developments in the migration policy landscape.