President Donald Trump’s near-total ban on immigration to the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries, known colloquially as the “Muslim ban,” is having widespread negative effects on refugees in the Middle East, according to a new report from Amnesty International.
In the new report, The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us, Amnesty interviewed nearly 50 refugees stuck in Lebanon and Jordan due to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Hundreds of families from war-torn regions of the Arab world, from Sudan to Syria, are “locked in an impossible limbo” waiting for the U.S. government to act either way on their asylum applications.
“These are families who put their trust in the United States at their most desperate hour, and now find themselves on the brink of catastrophe through absolutely no fault of their own,” Amnesty researcher Denise Bell said in a statement.
One refugee interviewed by Amnesty, named in the report as “Malik,” has been waiting to go to the U.S. from Beirut after fleeing Baghdad with his family for fear of religious persecution due to their Christian faith. As Malik told Amnesty, he tried to do everything the right way, but it didn’t matter:
Malik’s family had gone so far as to complete trainings to prepare for their new lives in the U.S. after his case was approved. Since the Muslim Ban was signed in 2017, his case has been held up due to what he is told are “security checks,” even though it was previously approved.
When asked what he would say if he could speak with President Trump, Malik said, “We are refugees. We’re human refugees. We’re refugees because there are difficult situations that made us flee . . . Please, so that we’re able to live. We want to live; we want to live in peace.”
The Trump administration has cut refugee intake into the country by 71 percent over the last three years, and for Syrian refugees, the reduction is even higher. As the report notes, “at the end of April 2019, only 219 Syrian refugees had arrived to the United States from Jordan and Lebanon this calendar year, putting the USA on pace to resettle just over 650 by the end of 2019. In contrast, in calendar year 2016, 11,204 Syrian refugees were resettled to the USA from Jordan and Lebanon.”