This past week, SCN Executive Director Suzanne Akhras recently joined a fact-finding mission of humanitarian organizations at three refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon to assess the situation of Syrian refugees. Although SCN does not work internationally, we feel it is crucial to understand the conditions faced by refugees overseas — those in refugee camps, traveling by foot to Europe, or waiting years for their resettlement to another country to be processed — in order to better advocate for them at the local and national level.
We met with several refugee families in Lebanon who were desperate for a lifeline of any kind. Many asked, “will President Trump reverse his travel ban and allow us to come to the U.S.?”
This is why the Supreme Court’s decision on Trump v. Hawaii is so heartbreaking. In choosing to uphold EO-3, the Supreme Court has validated a policy that is xenophobic in spirit, politically charged, and harmful to U.S. national security interests. The Supreme Court is traditionally deferent to the White House on immigration and national security matters, but even at a most conservative reading of Tuesday’s decision, the Supreme Court provides President Trump with runaway powers which undermine the interagency process that vets all immigrants and refugees, and which enable him to enact discriminatory policies that contradict decades of U.S. immigration policy. Nationals from, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen are barred from entry on the basis of nationality, on poorly-defined national security grounds. That six of the countries listed on the travel ban, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, are Muslim-majority countries — hence the executive order being referred to as a “Muslim Ban” — raises serious concerns about religious discrimination.
The Trump Administration determined “that a small number of countries — out of nearly 200 evaluated — remain deficient at this time with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices.” This assessment is divorced from the realities within the refugee and immigration vetting process at the grass roots level and within the humanitarian community. The process to register as a refugee, matriculate through rounds of security and background checks, and reach the finish-line of resettlement in the United States takes an average of two years or more. Ultimately, the ones who suffer needlessly for this are the refugees in need of a safe haven. President Trump claims that his course of action protects the nation from foreign terrorists — this ignores the fact that refugees themselves are fleeing everyday terror in their countries of origin.
As a nation, we are abandoning our values. America is a land of immigrants and refugees. We are seen as a beacon of hope to many around the world. We are closing the door on young girls like Sundus and Dima, who we met in Lebanon. Dima is a beautiful girl with bright eyes who, like many children in the camps, is currently struggling with malnourishment. Her bright younger sister, Sundus, is asking to have a better school at the camp.
At a time when we are facing the worst refugee crisis of our lifetime— with over 63 million displaced persons globally— the U.S. should be the example for the world to follow. As the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, we have the responsibility to take care of the downtrodden, the poor, and the disenfranchised. Throughout its history, America has risen to this challenge. “President Trump is damaging U.S. credibility abroad and is dangerously normalizing blanket discrimination of entire religions and nationalities” said Suzanne Akhras. The Supreme Court’s deference is only enabling his worst behavior and our worst instincts as a nation. This travel ban is does not make us more safe; it certainly betrays our values and any fact-based sensibilities.
We the people will not allow our principles and our constitution to be betrayed. Congress has the power to act to counter President Trump’s travel ban. Continue to follow SCN to find out how to make your voice heard on Capitol Hill.
Support for your local refugees and your Muslim neighbor, friend, co-worker and colleague is more important than ever.
What can you do?
. Call your representative and voice your concern and demand they make statements in support of religious inclusion and support for refugee resettlement. Call (202) 224-3121
. To support Syrian refugees in your community, visit our website.
. Speak to your colleagues at your workplace and write a letter or note of support for your colleagues who may be affected by the Muslim Ban
We ask for your continued prayers and support as we continue to serve, connect and empower our refugee community!