Press Release

February 6, 2017
Cardin, Leading NGOs Voice Unwavering Opposition to Trump Refugee and Travel Ban
With President Trump's attempted executive over-reach checked by federal courts, Senator, non-profits vow continued opposition to religious discrimination

BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today was joined by international and faith-based non-profit organizations in expressing continued opposition to any and all discriminatory and ineffective actions like President Trump’s attempt to bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and suspend the admission of all refugees. While hosting a press conference at Catholic Relief Services world headquarters, Senator Cardin assailed Trump’s actions as clearly damaging to our national security and completely counter to America’s core democratic values.

“We recognize America’s strength is in our diversity. America’s values are very much interwoven with our commitment to help refugees around the world, and American leadership is indispensable. So when the president issued his executive order, we understood immediately that it was not in keeping with the traditions and values of this country – and did not make us safer. In fact, it did the exact opposite,” said Senator Cardin, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “As I meet with leaders from around the globe, they all tell me the same thing: This executive order will make it more challenging for the U.S. to deal with extremist terrorists globally. It will be used as a recruitment tool by terrorist organizations. And it will make it harder to prevent foreign fighters from joining terrorist organizations.

“We also know that it will be used on the Internet for self-radicalization, when home-grown terrorists are perhaps our greatest threat today in regards to terrorist activities,” said Senator Cardin. “And we’ve also heard from the leaders of Muslim countries that it makes it more difficult for them to work with the United States in our campaign against terrorists. So for all these reasons, President Trump’s executive order puts Americans at risk. This action cannot be fixed and must be rescinded immediately.”

“The simple fact is that returning refugees [to their home countries] can have life or death consequences. We see this from experience working with them in some of the most dangerous places,” said Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Services CEO and president.  “Our elected officials have an obligation to protect the security of the American people, and we should all take such concerns seriously. But denying entry to the most vulnerable people is not the answer.”

“Refugees are victims. These are people who have been persecuted.  Many are women and children who are fleeing because they are at risk of losing their own lives,” said Senator Cardin.  “They go through a vetting process by the United Nations before we even start our vetting process, which takes 18 to 24 months, requires multiple interviews and background checks by multiple agencies. The people who enter our country as refugees are the most-screened individuals for any connection that could cause a problem. And if we don’t feel we have enough information to establish their legitimacy, they don’t come in.  Extreme vetting is already our standard operating procedure.

“Turning away legitimate asylum seekers at the border and requiring mandatory detention of families and children will do nothing to make America safer. Such cruel actions will inevitably bring harm and potentially death to survivors of violence and torture, while undermining America’s values and damaging our relationships with our allies,” said Senator Cardin. “I will continue to work to undo this unethical and ineffective example of misguided executive over-reach, and any future actions like it. And I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in moving forward legislation that makes it absolutely clear that we find such executive actions illegitimate and unacceptable.”