Statement by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) on the Expansion of the Travel Ban
For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2020
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Arlington, VA – The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is alarmed that the Trump Administration has expanded the current travel ban in place by adding additional countries to the list. The current ban applies to five majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, and prohibits nationals of those countries from crossing the U.S. border. The ban also restricts visas for citizens from Venezuela and North Korea.
The six additional countries included in this ban are Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The ban also suspends visas that can lead to legal permanent residency for people from Eritrea, Kyrgystan, Myanmar and Nigeria and denies diversity lottery applicants from Sudan and Tanzania.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants strongly objects to the travel ban as an affront to our values as Americans welcoming strangers – “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. Our current immigration policies are selectively discriminatory on the bases of faith and nationalities of immigrant and refugees,” said USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash
The first Executive Order, issued within days of the President’s inauguration, placed harsh restrictions on travel to the U.S. for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—all majority Muslim countries. This was the original travel ban. The Executive Order singled out countries with majority Muslim populations, citing their citizens as national security risks to the U.S.
Following protests across the country and a number of legal challenges, a second Executive Order was issued with some revisions to the restrictions, but also barred entry for all refugees who do not have either a visa or valid travel documents.
The third iteration, in the form of a Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats, indefinitely bans people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea (and certain government officials from Venezuela) from obtaining most immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to the U.S.
For people in those seven countries attempting to reunite with their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses, children, or parents, the impact of this order has been devastating. The order breaks up families for people in these countries trying to unite with U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses, children, or parents.
USCRI strongly opposes the Administration’s alarming efforts to drastically cut immigration to the U.S. Over time, the Administration has chipped away legal pathways to refugees, immigration and has significantly redefined who can come and who must go.
USCRI urges the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that is fair and humane and not abandon this issue to the narrow and exclusionary goals of the executive branch.
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), since 1911, has worked to provide for the needs and advocate on behalf of refugees and immigrants in America and around the world. The successive waves of refugees and immigrants throughout our American history, obliged our organization to be a voice for the voiceless – serving those who have survived persecution to flee and seek the protection of America’s enduring principles and values.