Idaho Reaction To Trump's (Second) Refugee Ban

Mar 8, 2017

Credit Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

This week the Trump administration revised its earlier executive order and is banning residents from six foreign nations from entering the United States. But the new order also extends provisions of the first executive order, which caps the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. 

The executive order outlines a steep reduction in the number of refugees admitted this fiscal year. President Trump’s cap of 50,000 refugees is less than half of the 110,000 allowed under former President Obama. The order also calls for a suspension of all refugees for 120 days.

On Monday, John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, defended the four-month suspension, saying it would allow “a rigorous review of our refugee vetting programs.”

But Jan Reeves, the director of the Idaho Office for Refugees, says that a tough review process is already in place.  

"The president has stated that he wants to take a time-out," Reeves says, "in order to assure that the vetting process is adequate and that the people who are coming to the U.S. are the ones who should come here.  And I think that we already have a system in place that is adequate. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a cessation of the refugee resettlement program in order to assure that we’re safe and secure."

At the beginning of the fiscal year, close to 1,200 refugees were expected to settle in Idaho, but that number may now drop. Reeves says the state has been welcoming refugees since the 1970s. He joined the program in 1998 and says he sees improvements in the vetting process year-by-year.

"The president," Reeves says, "has also never quite acknowledged that we have a vetting process that is the most robust, the most rigorous process, for making sure that the people who are coming are who they say they are, and that they pose no threat to our country. So the refugees admissions program has worked for over a decade to make sure that we are admitting the right people. It’s a process that’s in place and has been strengthened and enhanced periodically over the years."

Since the fiscal year began in October 2016, more than 37,000 refugees have been admitted to the United States, so under the new nationwide cap of 50,000, that leaves less than 13,000 slots for refugees over the next seven months.

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