The first case we were assured, back in January before the first executive order was signed, is coming! Two brothers, ages 23 and 25, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will arrive in Northampton next week. They are coming from a refugee camp in Burundi, where they have lived since they were 9 and 11 years old. We are so happy to finally welcome them!
As many of you know, yesterday President Trump rescinded his original Executive Order (travel ban) and replaced it with a new Executive Order that will go into effect on March 16, 2017. The new EO, allows for more exceptions to the travel ban and eliminates Iraq from the list of designated countries who are banned from entry for 90 days. However the ban of “Nationals of Countries of Particular Concerns” is as thinly veiled second attempt at blocking Muslim travel and/or settlement in the US.
From the perspective of refugee reception and placement, this EO changes very little from the original travel ban. Effective March 16, the order suspends travel of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days. After the 120 days, movement of refugees may continue only for those countries that have met the requirements of vetting to the satisfaction of DOS and DHS.
Additionally, the cap for refugee admissions has been slashed to 50,000 down from the 110,000 originally planned for FY2017. The capping of the program at 50,000 halts the hopes and dreams of 60,000 refugee men, women and children who were well on their way through the extensive vetting process for US resettlement.
In this moment there are many public policy experts, immigration lawyers, and agency directors who are combing through the order. We will do our best to keep people informed as circumstances change and as we understand better what, if anything, we will be able to expect regarding the refugee families who have already been formally accepted and are awaiting travel.
Catholic Charities Agency
All of us are keenly aware of the recent Executive Order (EO) signed by President Trump on January 27 that effectively suspends the entrance into our country of several categories of immigrants and indefinitely suspends the entrance of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Circumstances surrounding the EO are changing day-by-day as advocacy groups, agencies, and organizations attempt to block the execution of the EO. Therefore, what is known today could change quickly.
This is what we know, so far. The EO does impact our Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement program for Northampton. The movement of all refugees is suspended for 120 days pending review of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) application and adjudication process. Specifically mentioned is the prohibition of the processing and arrivals of Syrian refugees until it has been determined that Syrian resettlement to the U.S. is in alignment with the best interests of the United States. In addition, the number of refugees admitted to the United States in FY2017 is reduced from 110,000 to 50,000.
To date, Catholic Charities has provided assurances (a process that verifies that we accept a refugee case for reception and placement) for 18 individuals. Five of the individuals are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three individuals from Bhutan, three individuals from Iraq, and seven individuals from Syria. They will remain as our assigned cases in the interim 120 days, but will not be allowed entry during that period. We will not have access to R&P funding or the two case management assistance grants until such time as the resettlement process resumes. However, our staffing will remain and be sustained by Catholic Charities funds.
Aside from continuing to prepare for the eventual arrival of our refugee families, we are asking all to sustain the resistance and outcry against this suspension and its ill-conceived and uncompassionate provisions. Time can be the damper of public outrage. What begins as front-page headlines can all too soon be relegated to back page news. Make noise publicly. Please, also remember that there are other refugees from countries like the Congo, Burundi, Bhutan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Ethiopia have been swept into this suspension. Originating from countries that pose not "threat" to ours and already much ignored (some of whom have spent the longest time in refugee camps) they have again become the forgotten in this conversation. Write or call your representatives and senators, write the Supreme Court justices, sign on to national petitions that oppose the EO -- and keep it up until we see results.
This and future newsletters will include links and other aids to keep us informed and active in our advocacy efforts.
Catholic Charities Agency
The first public forum was a great success!
Thanks to everyone who came out last night to learn more about the effort to resettle refugees in the city of Northampton. Thanks for your thoughtful questions, feedback, and overwhelming support.
If you couldn't make it to the public forum last night, there's another public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22nd from 2-4pm at the Northampton Senior Center. See our events page for details.
The event was covered by MassLive, read their story here.