Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, in a safe town, the idea that my home wouldn't be safe, that I may never know where my family is, and that I may never see my home again, was a thought that never crossed my mind. But for many, it is a reality.
Now a year into the Trump presidency, one of the biggest changes we have seen is this administration's view of immigrants, and one of the most vulnerable populations of immigrants are refugees. In this article, I will explain how the Trump Administration's actions have affected refugees, why their actions are at the least unfounded, and what will 2018 look like for refugees.
So a quick look at Trump's various travel bans, broken down by this Vox article:
"The first version of the travel ban was issued in January, was in effect for a week before being put on hold by the courts, and was withdrawn in February. The second was issued in March, was put on hold by the courts before its start date, was finally allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court in June, and expired in September. The current version was issued at the end of September, was put on hold before it was set to go into effect, was allowed to proceed for people without bona fide relationships in November, and is now, in December, being allowed to go into effect in full."
The Vox article continues with saying that the last ban has no known end date. So what is the ban for? Well, the Trump Administration claims it is for security reasons. So what kind of security measures go into bringing a refugee into America?
First, a refugee would have to apply to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who then take information and do an interview. (less than 1% move forward).
Then, a Resettlement Support Center compiles the information, and the US begins its own security measures.
This starts with a biographic security check run through multiple agencies, and then it is followed up by an interview handled by the Department of Homeland Security, a biometric security check.
After all that there is a medical check, and assignment to a location. There is one last check, and if there is a single doubt, they are not admitted. If you want both the State Department and Obama's old Whitehouse archive have nice infographics of the whole thing (I prefer Obama's personally).
So does the screening process work? Well, a 2015 Time article said that of the 750,000 refugees since September 11, 2001, there have been 0 arrested on domestic terrorism charges, and only 2 charged with terrorist activities. Compared to the 190 people who were natural-born citizens and arrested for domestic terrorism, refugees look to be much less likely of committing acts of terrorism.
So although refugees are even less likely than natural born citizens to commit acts of terrorism the Trump Administration has been stifling their ability to enter the US.
You can see in the above graphic that although the need to resettle refugees has gone up in 2017, from an already high point in 2016, the Trump Administration (as of October 2017) was nowhere near reaching the number of people resettled in 2016.
This would be a scary trend to see continue since the United Nations (UNHCR) projects that close to 1.2 million people will need to be resettled, .1 million increase from 2017.
We all need to be more aware of the need for refugees, and what the Trump Administration is doing to prevent them from resettling in the US.
In 2018 we all need to do our part to help, be it voting for a candidate that helps rather than hurts refugees, or getting involved with the UNHCR. You can also donate to an agency helping refugees directly. Some great places to donate are MercyCorp, Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, or International Rescue Committee.
There is an end to this if we all work together. Donating to causes that help refugees, supporting politicians that fight for refugees, and fighting bigotry that would seek to stop any progress from being made. All of these are crucial steps towards a world where everyone can be safe to live their lives.