RELEASE: ‘Pausing’ the Refugee Resettlement Program Will Hurt the Most Vulnerable, According to CAP Experts

Washington, D.C. — ‘Pausing’ the refugee resettlement program—as called for by President Donald Trump’s January 27 executive order—would decimate the program due to the short and overlapping validity periods for security screenings and other checks that must be completed before refugees may travel to the United States, according to a new column by Center for American Progress experts Rita Medina and Philip E. Wolgin

While the 120-day ban remains on hold pursuant to court order, the president is preparing to sign a new version of his Muslim and refugee ban that would once more put the resettlement program in the crosshairs. Both the 120 day “pause,” as well as a slashing of the number of refugees that the United States will resettle in fiscal year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000—the lowest figure set since presidents began setting annual targets nearly 40 years ago—will have a significant and detrimental effect on the lives of the most vulnerable of refugees who will be left languishing indefinitely.

“Such a significant decrease in the number of refugees accepted into the country means that families will be forced to wait longer overseas in the dangerous conditions that are pushing them to seek asylum in this country to begin with,” said Rita Medina, Immigration Campaign Manager at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the column. “The longer wait times will create a further backlog on top of whatever backlog is created by those individuals having to restart the process due to expiring clearances under the pause.”

According to the column, disruptions to the refugee program also mean that organizations who resettle families in the United States will also have to halt the work they do to process refugees and prepare for their arrival, creating longer backlogs and logistical hurdles, and running the risk of shutting their doors permanently, dismantling our country’s capacity to serve refugees. This fiscal year, the United States has already resettled roughly 35,000 refugees, which only leaves 15,000 more to enter for the rest of 2017 under the president’s earlier order. This does not include the 67,000 refugees who are in the U.S. pipeline and already approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“Our country has a rich history of accepting refugees, many of whom are women and children fleeing violence and political strife in their home countries,” said Philip E. Wolgin, Managing Director of the Immigration Policy team and co-author of the column. “As CAP’s own research has shown, refugees integrate well into the communities in which they are resettled, and contribute greatly to the economy. Trump’s executive order fails to recognize these contributions, instead leaving refugees and their families in jeopardy overseas and undermining America’s reputation for helping the most vulnerable.”

Read the column here.

Additional resources on this topic:

Trump’s Reckless Muslim Ban Makes Americans Less Safe by Ken Gude

Defending an American Tradition, Communities Welcome Syrian Refugees by Silva Mathema

Our Courts Matter for the Muslim Community by Anisha Singh and Billy Corriher

The Real Effect of Trump’s Muslim Ban by Sam Fulwood III

The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Attempt to Redefine Religious Liberty by Claire Markham

LGBT Refugees’ Lives Depend on the U.S. Resettlement Program by Sharita Gruberg

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at tarditi@americanprogress.org or 202-741-6258.