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February 21, 2017

Letter to Kelly and Tillerson on Executive Order Enforcement

The Honorable John F. Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

The Honorable Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

Re: U.S. Global Leadership on Human Rights and Refugee Protection 

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Dear Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson:  

President Trump has announced that he will issue a new executive order on immigration and refugees in the coming days. In advance of this next directive, I urge you to do all you can to ensure that this new order mitigates the harm to American national security interests posed by the January 25 and January 27 orders, and that any actions you take to implement these orders uphold our treaty commitments and international legal obligations. Our nation can—and must—safeguard its security without breaking faith with its most cherished ideals.

The January 27 order would limit resettlement to the United States of Muslim refugees fleeing persecution in Muslim-majority countries. In response to the regional refugee and displacement challenges at our southern border, the January 25 order would increase the use of detention, turn away refugees at the border, and curtail access to asylum for those seeking protection. Such policies are unnecessary and cruel. Moreover, they set a dangerous example for the rest of the world, encouraging other countries—including those hosting the overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees—to shirk their responsibilities to provide refuge to those fleeing persecution, violence, and terror. Such actions undermine international law and international cooperation through resettlement, critical tools for supporting global stability and advancing American national security interests.