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January 25, 2017

AUSTIN – American Gateways is deeply concerned by President Trump’s recently announced plans to follow through on campaign promises to impose “extreme vetting” on immigrant and visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, impose a temporary ban on all refugee resettlement, and significantly increase immigration enforcement. “While we are not surprised that Mr. Trump is following through on threats he made throughout his presidential campaign, we reiterate our position that these measures are not only counterproductive, but also feed a climate of xenophobia that is corrosive to our democracy,” said Robert Painter, American Gateways Interim Executive Director.

These measures not only amount to unconstitutional discrimination based on race, religion, and national origin, they also shirk U.S. obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and undermine decades of American leadership in refugee protection. By placing a hold on refugees entering the country Mr. Trump is targeting some of the world’s most vulnerable people in the name of national security. “Refugees entering the U.S. currently undergo longer and more rigorous vetting than any other class of immigrants,” explained Painter. “They are survivors of persecution and often have more to fear from terrorism and extremist ideologies than most American citizens.”

We are also gravely concerned with the President’s plans to reinstate the Secure Communities program, attack so-called “sanctuary cities,” and increase the number of ICE officers in an apparent step toward a mass deportation program. Such a plan is not only impracticable and a danger to the economy, but also stands to trample on the rights of immigrants and citizens alike, all the while eroding public trust in law enforcement and undermining our criminal justice system. “There is nothing to be gained and so much to lose by pushing an already vulnerable community deeper into the shadows,” warned Painter. “As we have witnessed under the Obama Administration, increasing resources for immigration enforcement without any corresponding increase in resources for other branches of the immigration system such as the Immigration Courts and Asylum Office has a deleterious impact on the fundamental right to due process of law, among others.”

The Administration’s actions do little, if anything, to make Americans safer while contributing to insecurity within our immigrant community and eroding our credibility as a force for good in the world. We call on the Administration to walk back these policies immediately. Meanwhile, we plan to continue to advocate for immigrants and refugees in Central Texas and beyond.

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