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Boston Globe Editorial Board: “There’s plenty of room at the table”

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“America is at its best when it welcomes refugees and asylum seekers”

Over the holiday, the Boston Globe published a powerful editorial highlighting the stark contrast between Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)’s annual luncheon —which brought together 350 immigrants, refugees and allies to share a Thanksgiving meal — and the actions of the Trump administration. The editorial lambasts the administration’s relentless drive to dismantle the asylum process, calling their actions “a shameful abdication of the founding principles of our nation.”

Last week, the bicameral Refugee Protection Act of 2019 was introduced, which would expand refugee protections and reverse the administration’s harmful policies. The Globe Editorial Board points out that the Act represents the interests of three-quarters of Americans, who believe America has plenty of room at our table for refugees and asylum seekers.

The editorial is excerpted below and can be read in full here

For 15 years, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition has held an annual Thanksgiving soiree at the State House to fete the state’s immigrants and refugees, and their allies. On Tuesday, more than 350 immigrants — Haitians, Iraqis, Salvadorans, Panamanians, Chinese — shared, together on Beacon Hill, a meal of turkey and apple pie.

Elected officials and community leaders imparted words of hope and gratitude while acknowledging the real threats foreigners face every day in the Trump era. At a time when the president of the United States is closing the door on asylum seekers and dismantling the refugee resettlement process, the message was clear: There’s room at this table.

“Our nation has always welcomed those escaping violence and war and poverty. We will not allow Donald Trump to close our doors because of hate and fear,” said Senator Ed Markey to thunderous applause during the MIRA event.

Markey was not being hyperbolic. Just this year, President Trump has targeted immigrants on multiple fronts in what appears to be a concerted effort to prevent asylum seekers and refugees fleeing violence, war, and poverty from ever having a chance of coming to the United States. In September, the Trump administration announced it would dramatically cut the number of refugees who will be admitted to the United States in 2020 down to 18,000 — the lowest cap since 1980 — in an era when the number of refugees worldwide is at its highest since World War II. Trump’s more humane predecessors have often set six-figure caps for refugees. In October, not a single refugee was resettled in the United States.

All this amounts to a shameful abdication of the founding principles of our nation. What’s more, to explain abysmal refugee resettlement rates, the Trump administration has manufactured a border problem, arguing in a report to Congress that the low refugee ceiling is a response to the “extraordinary burden on the US immigration system” placed by “the humanitarian and security crisis along the southern border.” In other words, the administration is blaming asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border for its own failures to resettle refugees. As one former government official who worked in refugee resettlement put it: “This is a smokescreen: In fact, the government can handle both.”