Statement by the Aegis Trust:
On January 27th, President Trump signed an Executive Order suspending all refugee admission for 120 days, banning all Syrian refugees indefinitely, and barring entry to all citizens of seven countries with Muslim majorities from which high numbers of refugees are fleeing.
January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp, in which at least 1.1 million Jews were murdered – among them Jews from Nazi Germany who were refused entry to the United States as refugees.
An alarm rings from the Holocaust and more recent experiences in Rwanda and Bosnia when Governments discriminate against people based on religion, race or nationality. It is a dangerous step on a slippery slope which can lead towards more extreme policies.
The targeting of refugees is especially irresponsible, directly putting lives at risk. It sends a clear message to their persecutors that the lives of these people are not important. When the World’s richest nation takes such measures, this sets a terrible example for poorer countries currently hosting the majority of the World’s refugees.
President Trump’s Executive Order is in direct contravention of US obligations under international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention proscribes discrimination against refugees, and specifically proscribes exceptional measures taken against a refugee solely on account of his or her nationality.
Aside from the immediate cruel effects of this order, it is stirring up fear in America of Muslims in particular and refugees in general. It is also causing anger in the Muslim world – which will feed the propaganda machines that lure more recruits into extreme and violent organisations. This Executive Order has made America and the rest of the World more insecure.
American leverage and diplomacy should be used to help end the conflict in Syria, not prolong and escalate the refugee crisis. Addressing the root causes of why people flee oppression in their home countries would make both the victims and the rest of the world safer. By far the greatest cause of Syrian refugees is President Assad who has displaced nearly 5 million people from their country. With one hand President Trump encourages President Putin to support President Assad’s policies – that lead to millions seeking safety from his tyranny; with his other hand President Trump has signed an order that stigmatises and stops assistance to those same refugees.
For all these reasons, the Aegis Trust urges the Trump administration to urgently reconsider its policy.