The Trump Administration might effectively halt a program allowing displaced people from to enter the United States as refugees, according to a recent report by Politico. The U.S. has permitted the legal resettlement of people fleeing violence and persecution since Jewish refugees fled Germany during World War II. Refugees are designated by governments and international agencies, such as the United Nations. Unlike asylum seekers, who request residency from inside the United States, refugees apply for residency and are thoroughly vetted before they ever arrive.
A growing number of people are fleeing violence, persecution and human rights abuses. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that a record 70 million people had been forcibly displaced as of last year. The U.S. resettled 85,000 refugees in 2016 under President Barack Obama. The Pew Research Center reported that year saw the resettlement of the most Muslim refugees in American history. Upholding campaign promises of restricting immigration, especially for people from Muslim-majority counties, President Donald Trump has slashed resettlement numbers twice already, setting this year’s cap at 30,000. If the plans reported in Politico come to pass, the U.S. might receive fewer than 10,000 refugees in 2020, or perhaps none.
“The United States’ refugee resettlement program has long been a shining example of our nation’s commitment to one of its highest ideals: that all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Josh Hinson, director of The UNC Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. “By severely limiting—and in effect ending—our refugee resettlement program, we will deprive millions of people around the world of their last chance to find freedom, safety and happiness, and many will lose all they have left: their lives.”
Like others forced from their homes by violence and persecution, refugees have an elevated risk of trauma, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
UNC Refugee Wellness is a program of the UNC School of Social Work, and it provides home based mental health care to refugees in North Carolina’s Triangle region, free of charge. If the numbers of refugees are cut to the proposed level that puts programs like Refugee Wellness at risk for shutting down. A recent story on NPR in response to the Politico report featured the World Relief Organization – a key partner to UNC Refugee Wellness. To listen to the story click here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
States and communities across the country can demonstrate their support for refugees and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a bipartisan program that has offered safety and homes to refugees the world over since 1980. Every year the President sets the refugee admissions goal for the coming fiscal year. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is urging people who care to encourage their elected officials (local and state) to sign on to a letter to President Trump expressing their support for refugees and refugee resettlement agencies in their communities. The deadline is August 30, 2019. Here is a link to the letter http://welcomingrefugees2020.org/