Refugee Services of Texas

Statement by Aaron Rippenkroeger, President & CEO, Refugee Services of Texas

(Friday, January 27)

We are gravely disappointed by the Executive Order issued today by President Trump to scale back the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, including a complete stop in refugee arrivals for the next four months.

History has shown us time and again that America has been at its greatest when we have welcomed refugees to our shores, and at its weakest when we have shut our doors out of fear.

The horrific humanitarian consequences of this action cannot be overstated.  Some refugees will be at risk of losing their lives – including some who may do so following their service to the U.S. military and other U.S. actions overseas.  Some refugees, already approved for resettlement in the U.S., have sold all of their few remaining belongings in preparation for travel and after having already undergone up to two years of security vetting.  They will now be left in limbo, waiting for a refuge once promised to them that now may never come.

Over 70% of these refugees are women and children, and over 70% of these individuals are coming to the U.S. to join family members who already live here. Separating families needlessly is cruel and un-American. They are not dangerous, and to claim otherwise is not only false but morally wrong.

By definition, refugees are people who face a threat to their safety in their former homes – they are distinctly non-violent.  They personally know the horrors of violence and, like all Americans, they first want to be safe and secure.  Being tough on terrorism does not require being tough on refugees.  Even so, the U.S. has already in place the most stringent refugee security vetting process in the history of the world by any country and refugees are by far the most heavily vetted of all the individuals traveling to the U.S.  This political action will leave Americans less safe, not more.  It also undermines America’s principles of fair and equal treatment of all people around the world regardless of race, religion or country of origin – core tenets of the U.S. Constitution and the founding of our country.

This is why the enormously successful U.S. humanitarian refugee program has received significant bi-partisan support for decades – through many Presidents of both parties.

Because of its welcoming nature, Texas has been highly successful integrating refugees for many years. Over 85% of refugees resettled by Refugee Services of Texas achieve self-reliance within six months to become tax-paying contributors to their local communities and our country, and eventually American citizens.

We urgently request that President Trump rescind this Executive Order and demonstrate that America is not afraid of refugees. We respectfully ask him to show leadership and compassion for human rights and refugee protection during the current global refugee crisis—the largest of its kind since World War II.


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