Shaheen, Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Trump Administration to Continue Refugee Resettlement in U.S.

**Hours before implementation of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, bipartisan group of Senators say refugees applying through U.S. refugee program have ‘bona fide relationship’ in U.S.**

June 29, 2017

(Washington DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a bipartisan letter sent to Trump administration officials today urging the ongoing implementation of the U.S. refugee program in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing parts of President Trump’s Muslim ban to take effect tonight. The Supreme Court ruled that refugee admissions will continue in cases where a refugee can demonstrate a ‘bona fide relationship’ with an American individual or entity.

In their letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, the Senators write, “Since refugees who are applying through the USRAP are sponsored and provided direct resettlement services by one of nine private American nonprofit agencies contracted by the U.S. government, a bona fide relationship is established between the refugee applicant and the American nonprofit organization at the onset of their associationTherefore, the continued admission of refugees to the U.S. is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision.”

“The USRAP provides a vital humanitarian resource for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations at a time when the world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis in modern history,” the Senators wrote. “As a result of the vigorous processing procedures in place, it also presents a clear example of the bona fide relationship between American entities and refugees awaiting admission.”

In addition to Sen. Shaheen, the letter was signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Full text of the letter is below. PDF is available here.

 

June 29, 2017

 

The Honorable Rex Tillerson                                     

U.S. Secretary of State                                               

U.S. Department of State                                           

2201 C St NW                                                             

Washington, DC 20520                                              

 

The Honorable Jefferson Sessions

U.S. Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

The Honorable John F. Kelly

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Secretary Tillerson, Attorney General Sessions, and Secretary Kelly:

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 interim ruling to allow a partial travel ban as the Court considers Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v. Hawaii, we urge you to ensure that ongoing implementation of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) continues without delay. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that refugee admissions will continue in cases where refugees demonstrate a “bona fide relationship” with an American individual or entity.  Since refugees who are applying through the USRAP are sponsored and provided direct resettlement services by one of nine private American nonprofit agencies contracted by the U.S. government, a bona fide relationship is established between the refugee applicant and the American nonprofit organization at the onset of their association. 

This relationship is demonstrated through extensive documentation, formal assurances, and signed agreements and is built on years of formal processing, to include strict vetting procedures. Therefore, the continued admission of refugees to the U.S. is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision. We ask you to issue immediate guidance reflecting this determination and avoid any misunderstandings or additional litigation that may result from the recent ruling.

The USRAP provides a vital humanitarian resource for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations at a time when the world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis in modern history.  As a result of the vigorous processing procedures in place, it also presents a clear example of the bona fide relationship between American entities and refugees awaiting admission.

We thank you for your urgent attention and look forward to receiving your guidance on this matter.