Local leaders, advocates react to Trump refugee executive orders

The International Organization for Migration and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a cautiously worded statement Saturday that they hope the United States "will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution".

Two United Nations agencies say long-standing USA support for resettlement programs has offered a double benefit, "first by rescuing some of the most vulnerable people in the world and second by enabling them to enrich their new societies". "That really bothers us - all of us who believe that persecuted people from all over the world need to be welcomed to this country".

When asked if Christians would be given special status, he replied "yes", adding: "They've been horribly treated... everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. They diversify us. In the process of saving their lives, they enrich ours".

In addition, it specifically bars Syrian refugees from the United States indefinitely, or until the president himself decides that they no longer pose a threat. "This is a religious decision I think", Abu Mohammad said.

Late on Friday, the Trump administration issued a temporary ban on the entry of Syrian, Sudanese, Somalian, Iraqi, Yemeni, Iranian and Libyan nationals to the United States in an executive order that he said was prompted by security concerns. "We can protect our citizens without putting even more barriers in front of those who have lost everything and want to build a better future in America".

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Mr Trump stopped the entry of travellers from Syria and the six other nations - Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen - for at least 90 days, saying his administration needed time to develop more stringent screening processes for refugees, immigrants and visitors. "The irony beggars belief".

Help Refugees, a British charity working across camps in northern France, Greece and the Middle East, said news of Mr Trump's order was "devastating". Some people had already packed their life in a way, chose to sell whatever they could sell, taken their children out of school.

People seeking to enter the United States as refugees are first screened and interviewed overseas by UNHCR. Only a tiny fraction are considered eligible for resettlement to a third country. Save the Children takes no issue with proposals to further flawless the vetting process to protect our nation's safety, but we must remember that resettling refugees reinforces our security by supporting key allies that are disproportionately affected by forced displacement.

More than 600 refugees fleeing violence and persecution have been resettled in Texas since January 1., and refugee resettlement agencies were expecting to help thousands more start new lives in the state this year.

  • Megan Austin