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Home / Press Release / Former U.S. Officials Reject Revised Refugee Ban Executive Order
March 10, 2017

Former U.S. Officials Reject Revised Refugee Ban Executive Order

Washington, DC – A group of more than 100 former U.S. government officials today wrote to President Trump to express concern over the March 6 executive order halting refugee resettlement and suspending travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The signatories of the letter, who include Former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, warned that the executive order will jeopardize U.S. relationships with allies and partners on whom the United States relies for vital counterterrorism cooperation and information-sharing, and is counter to American Ideals.

"The United States faces serious threats from terrorist networks and must take all prudent and effective steps to combat them, including the appropriate vetting of travelers to the United States. But the recent order suffers from the same core substantive defects as the previous version…To Muslims— including those victimized by or fighting against ISIS—it will send a message that reinforces the propaganda of ISIS and other extremist groups, that falsely claim the United States is at war with Islam. Welcoming Muslim refugees and travelers, by contrast, exposes the lies of terrorists and counters their warped vision,” wrote the group.

The letter notes that refugees are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler, and that vetting procedures are continuously reviewed and enhanced.

Additionally, the group highlighted that many Iraqis who risked their lives to work with the U.S. military are awaiting resettlement through the refugee admissions program and will be left in harm’s way due to the suspension of refugee resettlement and overall reduction in refugee admissions. Resettlement of these men and women will now likely be delayed as security clearances and other approvals expire, adding many more months onto their processing.

"Bans like those included in this order are harmful to U.S. national security and beneath the dignity of our great nation. Further, the order’s drastic reduction in the number of refugees to be resettled in this fiscal year after the 120-day moratorium weakens this country’s ability to provide global leadership and jeopardizes our national security interests by failing to support the stability of our allies that are struggling to host large numbers of refugees. America’s much-admired compassion and openness are sources not of weakness but strength. These qualities accord with the ideals on which our nation was founded, and on which our greatness rests,” added the group.

To see the full list of signatories click here.

For more information contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.