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Rescue group ends plans to resettle refugees in Asheville
Tuesday, 04 July 2017 10:35

From Staff Reports

The nonprofit International Rescue Committee revealed on June 8 that it has scrapped plans to resettle 150 refugees in Asheville.

An exploratory visit was made to the city last year, at which time the large humanitarian aid organization’s proposal received what the IRC termed as tremendous support.

It also met with words of caution, echoed by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Buncombe, who said Americans must be compassionate while being wise to security risks. Another consideration was whether Asheville, for years in an affordable housing crisis with available wages inadequate for local rents, was a good place for so many people to make a fresh start.

Challenges mounted in January, as newly elected President Donald Trump initially banned travel from seven countries and specifically prohibited any more Syrian refugees from entering the United States. 

As masses were stranded mid-travel, lawyers sat on the floor of airports with their laptops, reaching out for relief. 

Court cases cited Trump’s campaign rhetoric calling for a “Muslim ban” as evidence the executive orders represented un-constitutional discrimination based on religion.

The courts put a stay on the ban, and Trump presented another plan, walking back the ban on Iraq and making only temporary the suspension of entry imposed on Syrian refugees. This, too, was blocked by the courts, which argued it was “rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.”

Then, on June 8, the IRC announced that it was unable to risk proceeding with plans. The series of executive orders and court challenges had clouded future admission of refugees with too much uncertainty for the organization to develop strategies.

The recent Supreme Court decisions have little to do with refugee resettlement, as relief is only for persons with clear connections to family or organizations in the US; and at that, only for as long as it takes the court to make a final decision.

The IRC helped resettle almost 10,000 refugees, including Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians, in 2015. Under the Trump administration, with tens of thousands waiting, the rate of refugees flowing into the country has been halved. Most are coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Myanmar. Undaunted, IRC spokesman Sean Piazza urged concerned citizens to prevail upon their representatives in Congress to continue the work of providing a safe haven for the world’s most vulnerable.




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