Press Release: LAWG Condemns Second Cruel Attempt at Banning Refuge-seeking Families & Children from Entering United States

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March 6, 2017
Contact: Daniella Burgi-Palomino,, (202) 546-7010

The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) strongly condemns the Trump Administration’s second cruel attempt to ban Muslim and refuge-seeking families and children from abroad from entering the United States, including those fleeing violence in Central America. Alongside the previously signed border and interior enforcement executive orders, this revised executive order continues the unjust, ineffective, anti-immigrant, and un-American policies of the administration. It will damage U.S. diplomacy abroad, close the door to the most vulnerable, and do little to improve national security. LAWG calls on the administration to rescind this executive order immediately and for all agencies to be held accountable to upholding U.S. and international law.

Cosmetic changes don’t hide the fact that this order still shuts the door on thousands of families whose lives are at risk and who are seeking refuge in the United States. It serves the same purpose of scapegoating refugees, immigrants, and Muslims and it sends the same clear message of hate to the world’s most vulnerable individuals and families. This is not who we are as a country and it does not reflect the moral values upon which our country was founded,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights and Border Issues.  “This order will also mean that asylum-seeking unaccompanied children and families seeking refuge from violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will face greater obstacles to their already limited chances for receiving protection.”

Beginning March 16, 2017, the “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” order mandates a 120-day halt on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), shutting the door to individuals seeking safety within the United States. This pause jeopardizes the lives of those currently in the pipeline by pausing their processing, including families and children in the Central America Minors (CAM) program and the Costa Rica Protection Transfer Agreement (PTA), the only two, albeit small, in-country programs providing limited protection options for Central American families and children. It orders a review of the refugee application and adjudication process, failing to recognize that refugees are already among the most thoroughly screened immigrants. In addition, the executive order maintains the reduction of overall global refugee admissions to 50,000 for fiscal year 2017, sharply reducing possibilities for those seeking safety from Latin America as well.

Though it removes Iraq from the list of banned countries, this order like the previous order signed on January 27th, maintains the Muslim ban by halting the admission of nationals from Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States for 90 days. It leaves the possibility open that nationals from additional countries may be banned entry to the United States upon further review within the first 20 days of the implementation of the order.

The executive order states that “Nothing in this order shall be construed to limit the ability of an individual to seek asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture, consistent with the laws of the United States.” However, the provisions within the order are wholly contradictory to this statement. Any pause on refugee processing, even temporary, will cause backlogs in the rigorous screening that refugees undergo, force thousands to wait years to repeat expired checks, and place their lives at immediate risk.

The Latin America Working Group remains committed to working with partners in the United States, Mexico, and Central America to reject these harmful discriminatory policies and to defend the right to asylum for all individuals and families fleeing violence.