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Oklahoma U.S. senator asks Trump administration to uphold the refugee program

WASHINGTON – An Oklahoma U.S. senator is calling on President Donald Trump to uphold the US Refugee Admissions Program to help those who are fleeing from genocide and oppression.

Sen. James Lankford sent a bipartisan letter to Trump to inquire about the program, which has resettled more than 3 million refugees across the country.

The letter encouraged the administration to uphold the USRAP since it enables the United States to fulfill key international commitments and help those in need.

“Refugees come from the most vulnerable and persecuted populations around the world and are the most securely vetted travelers to the United States, spending an average of two years in the application process prior to approval,” the letter states.

Following a recent executive order, the group of lawmakers is seeking clarity on the administration’s plans for the program.

“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, we are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis in modern history. More than a year ago, on March 17, 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry formally designated the actions of ISIS as genocide. As part of that declaration he said: “[ISIS] is… responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities… [ISIS] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia. …naming these crimes is important. But what is essential is to stop them.” While the recognition and need to address these horrific crimes is important, we must not lose focus of the need to also protect others fleeing persecution around the world.

As you know, Executive Order 13769, issued on January 27, aimed to place a temporary 120-day halt on the USRAP and reduce the total refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. This Executive Order was subsequently rescinded by Executive Order 13780, issued on March 6. Executive Order 13780 also aimed to place a similar halt and reduction on the USRAP. However, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on March 15 followed by a preliminary injunction on March 29, which currently prevents the implementation of portions of this Executive Order, including the entire section addressing the USRAP,” the letter states.

The lawmakers want to know how many refugees they plan to admit to the country this year, and are survivors of genocide designated as a special humanitarian concern.