On the Anniversary of the Travel Ban, JRS/USA Continues to Call for Compassion

26 January 2018

(Jesuit Refugee Service)

One year ago, the Trump Administration released their Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” – what we’ve now come to know as the “Muslim ban” – suspending all refugee entry into the United States and blocking the entry of immigrant and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. The Order was both a disheartening symbol of an unwelcoming environment and a policy with harmful impacts on the lives of individuals, many who have already suffered so much.

Holy Trinity, a Jesuit Parish in Washington, DC, saw and felt the real impacts of this policy. “It was at this time a year ago that the Kurdish family from Syria, that we had agreed to accompany, was due to arrive in the U.S. But, then the President issued an Executive Order that took effect literally one day before they were to travel, preventing them from entering our country,” said Kate Tromble, Holy Trinity’s Pastoral Associate for Social Justice. “Eventually they did arrive – exhausted and overjoyed – and since that day we have walked with them as they have adjusted to their new home. And adjust they have – everyone speaks passable English, the children are working hard at school, and the parents are starting to find work. Making these new friends has left a deep mark on all of us at Holy Trinity.”

Many refugees and their families have not been so lucky though. Today, people around the world continue to be impacted by these harmful policies. While Federal courts, and even the Supreme Court, have debated the validity of these policies over the course of 2017, the latest version of the “Muslim ban” has been allowed to take effect until these legal challenges are fully decided. As a result, the United States currently bans entry by nationals of six Muslim-majority countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and a smaller number of North Koreans and Venezuelans. This is true for individuals on most, or all, types of visas, even if they have spouses, children, parents, or other family members in the United States.

JRS/USA continues to oppose this ban and any religious test for entry into the United States. “The rescue and welcome of vulnerable people looking to the U.S. for safety is in our best interest as citizens and is deeply rooted in our traditions and values,” says Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Interim Executive Director. “We need to continue to urge the Administration to recognize refugees as our sisters and brothers who are in need of protection and compassion.”

As Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, JRS/USA Director of Mission, said in his open letter to President Trump last year “When you consider actions you might take to fulfill your promise to make America great again, remember the greatness of heart that is at the foundation of just and humane U.S. refugee assistance. Our nation and our world look to you for a magnanimous response to those who have been forced from their homes.”

Click here to send a letter to the Administration expressing your opposition to the ban and to other harmful policies towards refugees.