The situation faced by an Iraqi man stranded in Egypt and in danger for his life despite being cleared to travel to the United States is emblematic of the cruelty of President Trump’s refugee policies, said Amnesty International USA today.
The man, known as “Sam,” is in particular danger as a result of unnecessary delays caused by the Trump administration’s successive refugee bans and additional security screening procedures implemented after he was cleared for travel to the United States. Due to these delays, he is in danger of being returned to Iraq, where, as a former interpreter who worked with the United States, he would be at risk of serious harm or death. Numerous Iraqi interpreters like him face substantial risk to their lives, and many have been murdered. AIUSA, in cooperation with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to keep its promise to Sam and expedite his case on emergency and humanitarian grounds, while also ensuring that Congressionally appropriated resources are used to process additional refugee cases to ensure the refugee admissions goal is reached for this fiscal year.
“Sam has been a client of ours for the past three years, during which he had to go through several interviews, and pass extensive security and medical checks,” said Betsy Fisher, policy director of the International Refugee Assistance Project. “Last year, he was told to get ready for travel to the U.S. to start his new life, but before he was able to do so, the government’s new refugee restrictions shattered his hopes. He is now held up in the process for no discernible reason, other than that he is from Iraq. The U.S. government’s refugee ban policies are keeping him in danger.”
“Sam’s story is all too familiar to those who have lost everything and are now living in desperation and danger as refugees,” said Ashley Houghton, tactical campaign manager at Amnesty International USA. “The Trump Administration’s cruel policies treat them as though they are criminals just for wanting a safe place to live. Sam’s case is particularly striking due to the number of close friends who have fought for years for his resettlement and the community that is waiting for him. This is the time for other local communities to stand up and support people like Sam and let our federal government know that they are welcome.”
The UN refugee agency estimates that of the 22.5 million refugees in the world, there are 1.2 million refugees in need of resettlement to a third country like the United States, meaning they cannot return home or stay in the country to which they fled. However, the U.S. has set the cap on the number of refugees it will resettle in fiscal year 2018 at only 45,000, the lowest refugee admissions goal since the start of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in 1980.
At the halfway point for the fiscal year, the United States has resettled 10,548 refugees – not even a quarter of 2018’s reduced goal. If the current arrival levels keep pace, the U.S. won’t even resettle half of that goal.
In addition to sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, AIUSA is calling on supporters to take local actions to welcome refugees in their own communities, and to urge elected officials to hold the U.S. government accountable for keeping its promises to refugees.