What Does the Executive Order Mean for Refugees?

What is in the Executive Order:

1) A four month pause in the refugee program: From our understanding, this means we will have no arrivals through at least the end of May. Many refugees who were scheduled to arrive on Friday, January 27, have already been detained and their status is being discussed. All additional refugees scheduled for arrival in the coming weeks have had their flights cancelled.

2) A cut in the refugee ceiling from the proposed 110,000 to 50,000 arrivals: Originally, President Obama had planned to accept 110,000 refugees this fiscal year, with many arriving from Syria. This new action will cut that number by more than half and lower it to numbers not seen since 2002. The U.S. has already welcomed over 30,000 refugees for 2017 (the fiscal year begins in October), leaving only 20,000 more refugees who would be able to arrive this year between June 1 and September 30.

3) Bans on arrivals from Syria for the refugee program: Syrians are barred from the refugee program until the President decides the Refugee Admission Program “aligns with the national interest.” Waivers may be granted for persons who can show that they are members of “persecuted religious minorities”. We will update everyone once we know more about further bans.

4) Visa bans for Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen: This does not affect refugees. The order bans visas for nationals from these countries for 90 days, although the ban may be extended.

What still needs clarification:

* Family reunification: Many of the refugees who are currently in the United States from Syria, Iran, and other “banned” countries are waiting to be reunited with family members who are still in danger in their home countries. We are currently unsure if those seeking reunification will also be banned from arrival after the pause is lifted.

* What about persons scheduled for arrival?: From what we can tell, persons already in the pipeline will be able to be resettled after the four month pause is lifted. Those who were previously scheduled for arrival will likely need to re-do their medical screenings, which could take additional weeks or months before they can be rescheduled for arrival. We are unsure if currently-approved Syrian cases will be able to be rescheduled in the future.

* Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs): SIV holders from Iraq and Afghanistan are men and women who have previously served with our Armed Forces during the wars in the region. We are currently unsure if this program is also included with the bans on Iraqi arrivals. However, early reports state that some of those who have been detained are members of this program.

* What about deportation? We DO NOT expect any refugees currently in the country to face deportation. All refugees currently in the U.S. have arrived legally and were thoroughly vetted before arrival. HOWEVER – many lawyers’ associations are strongly suggesting that those with visas and even greencards from affected countries do not travel outside the U.S. while we await clarification on this order.

For more details, please download the American Immigration Council’s summary and analysis (PDF) of the Executive Order. Because there are a number of unanswered questions, stay tuned for new developments.

Soft Landing Missoula’s Statement:

On Friday, January 27, we issued this statement regarding the executive order.

What You Can Do:

  • Contact President Trump and the White House. Click on Four Easy Steps to Show Support for Refugees from the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies and take action now.
  • Help your new American friends, clients, and family members understand what this order means. Refugee Center Online has explanations in English and 11 other languages to help refugees understand how this may affect them.
  • Share your passion with your friends and family. President Trump believes he is doing what his supporters, and his country, most desire. Be sure your friends and family are also showing their support for #RefugeesWelcome.
  • Come to Soft Landing Missoula and send postcards to Senators Tester and Daines. We have post cards available in our office at 939 Stephens Ave Suite C for you to fill out for the Senators. Please write to show your support of refugees and resettlement in our country and our city. Senator Tester did issue this statement so please add a thank you on his note as well. Stop by anytime Monday-Thursday 9:30-3 and Friday 10-12. Feel free to take a couple of postcards to your friends and family!
  • Call our State Elected officials and let them know you support refugees in the great State of Montana.
        •    Rep. Zinke – (202) 225-3211; Local (406) 540-4370.
        •    Sen. Tester – (202) 224-2644; Local (406) 728-3003.
        •    Sen. Daines – (202) 224-2651; Local (406) 549-8198

*Much of this text in this post and inspiration for action was adapted from New American Pathways.