United States (MNN) – The U.S. travel ban has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
This will limit the granting of visas to citizens from five Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. It will further add limits to citizens from North Korea and Venezuela and it will lift restrictions on citizens from Sudan.
There have been several drafts previous to this particular ban, which had also included Chad and Iraq, but the countries were taken off on later drafts.
“The travel ban has been in place for quite a while. There were several iterations of it and then most recently in December. So, we’ve been kind of living under this reality,” Bethany Christian Services’ Kristine Van Noord says.
What the Travel Ban Means for Refugees
“But, what this means going forward for the refugee program is that some of the refugees that so desperately need a place to resettle because of the persecution that they are facing in their home country, and in their inability to return there, people from Syria for example, will be unable to come through the refugee resettlement process.”
This ban, as well as the reduction of refugees welcomed per year, has significantly reduced the number of refugees from these nations coming into the U.S.
Van Noord shares that in the fiscal year of 2016, over 12,500 Syrians came into the U.S. In the fiscal year of 2017, over 6,500 Syrian refugees came into the U.S.
Now, nine months into the fiscal year for 2018, only 46 Syrians have come into the U.S.
Further, Van Noord says, “The presidential determination this year was decreased to 45,000 refugees. However, we are three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year and the U.S. has only resettled 35 percent of that 45,000. So, our concern is across the board.
“We are in the greatest refugee crisis in history and we are resettling the smallest amount of refugees that the U.S. has brought in since we started the Refugee Resettlement Program.”
Impact on Other Nations
The reduction of refugee admittance is one of great concern to Bethany because of how it will lead and impact the rest of the world and therefore, what that could mean for refugees.
“One of our greatest concerns here is that the U.S. has historically been a leader in refugee resettlement and the foremost advocate on the world stage. Our concern is that other countries will take the U.S.’s lead in this and also reduce their numbers of welcoming refugees into their country,” Van Noord says.
Other nations have followed the U.S.’s lead in making the screening process for refugees far more difficult.
It’s known that the U.S. has one of the most vigorous security screening processes in the world and it has continued to be made more difficult even in the last year.
“Many nations have added to their Refugee Resettlement Program because of the U.S. advocating and so, it is definitely a concern that nations may take away their support because that is what the U.S. is doing as well in reducing the number of refugees coming in,” Van Noord says.
“We’ve already seen that happen with some nations and it’s definitely our concern that with the Supreme Court decision that that might happen even more so.”
Van Noord says because of the extreme security in vetting, the government doesn’t need to choose between helping refugees or having national security.
Instead, they can trust that the Refugee Resettlement Program will ensure safety for the nation as well as welcoming and assisting those fleeing for their lives.
If other nations follow the U.S.’s lead in reducing their refugee admittance and establish travel bans, refugees will be stuck in camps and insecure areas for many more years without proper food and shelter. They will be living without access to medical care, susceptible to diseases and continued terrorist attacks.
“This is really a life-saving program, the Refugee Resettlement Program is. And so, this is denying the opportunity for so many refugees that desperately need it.”
Advocating for Refugees
Van Noord says many of these refugees who are wanting to come to the U.S. are trying to be reunited with family members. This ban makes it far more unlikely that broken families will be brought back together again in the safety of the U.S.
Bethany is committed to bringing families together. Because of this, they are continuing to advocate for refugees and families that have been split apart.
They invite you to pray for refugees and advocate for them by contacting your representatives and sharing your passion for helping these vulnerable people.