PROVIDENCE, RI – As the Trump Administration rolls out a new xenophobic policy that would cut the level of refugee admission to the United States to historic lows, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined with Rhode Islanders, leading advocates, and refugees in pledging to work even harder to combat intolerance, protect human rights, uphold America’s core values.

The roundtable discussion was held at Aleppo Sweets, an acclaimed new restaurant that was founded by a Syrian refugee baker, Youssef Akhtarini, and a Dorcas International volunteer, Sandy Martin, who helped the family resettle in Rhode Island.  Aleppo Sweets employs 11 Syrian refugees and earned a place on Bon Appetit’s top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2019

Over baklava and tea, the participants discussed the need to ensure the United States remains a welcoming place that does its part to assist people fleeing violence and persecution.

Last week, for the third year in a row, the Trump Administration announced plans to drastically reduce the number of fully-vetted refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. in the coming year to just 18,000, down from the current limit of 30,000; and a fraction of the 110,000 person ceiling that the Obama Administration had called for in 2017.  Additionally, the Trump Administration is seeking to grant cities and states new powers to refuse to accept refugees for resettlement through nonprofit organizations.

Senator Reed says Trump’s policies are misguided and not driven by America's capacity to resettle those fleeing violence and persecution or national security concerns, but solely by a political agenda.

“Welcoming refugees is a humanitarian act that also yields important economic, cultural, and community benefits for Rhode Island and strengthens national security.  We have the capacity to help and the American people have the compassion.  President Trump needs to end the rhetoric of fear and summon the political courage to do the right thing,” said Senator Reed.

The event was led by Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, a non-profit that supports immigrants, resettles refugees, and connects them with critical resources and cultural orientation. 

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are more than 25 million refugees worldwide.

The need to help people remains high, and Senator Reed says America must not turn its back on people in their hour of need when we have the power and capacity to help save lives, enrich our own country, and make the world a safer place for all.

“Welcoming those fleeing persecution has been a cornerstone of Rhode Island’s identity since its founding by Roger Williams,” said Senator Reed, who noted that members of the U.S. military repeatedly stress how the refugee program serves critical national security interests.

A group of 27 leading retired Admirals and General recently wrote a letter in support of refugee resettlement, noting: “For decades the refugee resettlement program has provided life-saving assistance, demonstrated our humanitarian leadership and values… and served critical national security interests.  When America turns its back on refugees… [it leads to] further cycles of instability and insecurity in critical regions, increasing pressure on military action.”