Statement in Response to the Recent Travel Ban

February 21, 2020

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 21, 2020) Hello Neighbor released the following statement in response to the recent expansion of the ongoing travel ban:

On January 31, 2020, the Administration released a statement to expand the ongoing travel ban, placing new restrictions on six additional countries. Immigrant visas will be suspended for citizens of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa in addition to visa suspensions from Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan—while people from Sudan and Tanzania will be barred from the U.S. diversity visa program, which awards green cards to immigrants. Although the additions to the original travel ban do not affect refugee arrivals from those countries, they further contribute to a fearful narrative of refugees and immigrants and impact reunification with family members for those living in the US.

This order comes within days of the three-year anniversary of the Administration’s original ban, a contentious executive order that restricted travel from several majority-Muslim countries. Along with this original ban, we have also seen declining admissions of refugees into the United States, with 2020 expected to have the lowest number of refugee admissions since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) was created in 1980.

Offering refuge to those fleeing violence has long been a non-partisan humanitarian priority in the United States. In 1947, the U.S. helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The U.S. is also a signatory on the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, a commitment to ensure that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.

We are deeply saddened by yet another move to restrict families from equal access to safety, security, opportunity, and the ability to stay together.

This is not a political issue. It is a human issue.

Bans have serious implications for families around the world and here in the communities we serve. It is a further push toward isolation–for those seeking refuge within our country’s borders as well as those who have already resettled in the U.S.–the exact endemic that Hello Neighbor is working to combat.

As a nonprofit dedicated to supporting immigrant and refugee families seeking a safe-haven in communities across America, we are not losing heart. Together, with thousands beside us, including staff, donors, volunteers, board members, the families we serve, our allies, advocates, and ambassadors, we stand in solidarity with all those who work to soften the landing of refugees and remain committed to advocating for the vulnerable, the oppressed and the suffering, regardless of their faith or where they come from.

The work we are doing now in our communities is more important than ever, and we, as neighbors, are not going anywhere.

Hello Neighbor will continue to work to improve the lives of refugee families within our communities and be a leading voice in the effort to keep America a nation that is free and welcoming to all, regardless of race, religion or national origin. And we are calling on those who oppose all forms of discrimination and are inspired to make America a place of welcoming, to join with us.

We need you here.

NATIONAL ACTION: In the coming week, Congressional Members will vote on a bill that could strike down the ban and curb the president’s authority to prevent travel to the United States. Hello Neighbor is asking those who wish to speak out against this injustice to contact your representatives to support the No Ban Act (S.1123 / H.R.2214), which would repeal the ban and amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit discrimination based on religion.

LOCAL ACTION: Join our communituy of neighbors. Become a mentor, attend one of our community dinners or host a film screening. Get to know your refugee and immigrant neighbors and stand on the front lines of change as we make Pittsburgh known as a city of welcome.

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