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Dianne Solis talks to refugees about the impact of the drastic refugee reduction
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The Trump administration yesterday announced a sharp reduction in the total number of refugees who will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. – 18,000 next year, a historic low. The Dallas Morning News’ Dianne Solis published a piece yesterday highlighting the lives of refugees in the Dallas area, the contributions they’ve made to our state and our country, and the importance of the U.S. continuing to be a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
Below is an excerpt from Dianne Solis’ piece in the Dallas Morning News. Find the story in its entirety here.
President Donald Trump on Thursday sharply reduced the total number of refugees who will be allowed to resettle in the U.S. next year, cutting that number to a modern historic low of 18,000 people.
U.S. presidents have the authority to cap the number of admissions: President Barack Obama set the ceiling at 110,000 refugees in the final months of his administration. Trump has reduced it each year since.
“This is a very sad day for America,” said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, one of the largest resettlement agencies in the world with offices in Dallas.
“For those not yet admitted, it reneges on promises made to people who supported U.S. military missions abroad — at considerable risk to their families and themselves — as well as persecuted families,” said Miliband, a son of refugees.
Less generous resettlement can have a ripple impact across the globe, advocates said.
“If other countries follow our lead, that will have cataclysmic impact,” Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait, said recently.
Crocker wanted the presidential cap to be set at 95,000.
Since 2017, other nations, such as Turkey, have followed the U.S.’ lead in lowering their caps.
He said security vetting for refugees is already intense. “There is no class of applicants to the United States who are more thoroughly screened than refugees,” Crocker said.
More refugees are resettled in Texas than any other state, and many end up in North Texas.
Here’s how some of them feel about the lower caps and their new lives in the U.S.:
Grateful for help
Isaac Alingabo came to Texas eight months ago. He and his family are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a central African nation rocked by war. It’s now the leading source of refugees resettling in the U.S.
Alingabo, 23, said “first and foremost” he thanks Trump for allowing his family into the U.S. But he added that more people from his country are worthy of consideration for refugee status, and he hopes America opens its arms to them.
….“There are so many people out there in the Congo and so many different parts of Africa who are suffering,” he said. “If he could only look at those people, and the way they live. It isn’t the life anybody would wish.”
….Htee Shee’s family fled the Karen conflict. She says she spent years in a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Myanmar. There, even as a small child, she saw education as a path to a better life; she’d follow older children to school.
When she was 7-years-old, she arrived in the Dallas area with her family as part of one of the largest flows of refugees into the U.S. from a single country. The U.S. has resettled about 123,000 refugees from Myanmar over the last decade.
President George W. Bush and his wife Laura were especially welcoming to those who came from the violence-torn country. They were strong advocates of the fight for democracy in Myanmar. Laura Bush even visited a refugee camp at the Thai-Myanmar border in 2008 and met with refugees at the White House on the U.N. Refugee Day.
“America has been a very accepting place so far,” said Shee, a 19-year-old attending the University of Texas at Dallas. But she says the lower cap on refugees “is to go backward.”
“If you go out of your way to meet a refugee person, you will see they are some of the most hardworking people,” says Shee, the daughter of a restaurant cook and phone assembly worker.
According to Mario Carrillo, America’s Voice Texas Director, “It’s a dark day in our country’s history. The Trump administration has all but closed the door to those fleeing extreme violence, human rights violations and religious persecution. There is no bottom to Trump’s and Stephen Miller’s depravity and outright disdain toward immigrants and refugees.
“As the refugee crisis around the world grows, our responsibility to continue being a beacon of hope for the most vulnerable grows as well. But instead of leading with compassion, this administration would rather cower behind the veil of nationalism. History will look back on this administration with shame as it shuts the door to hope and opportunity to those who need it most.”