Federal refugee and asylum officials criticize travel ban

The union’s brief sought to put the refugee and asylum program into a historic context.

“USRAP, a consortium of several federal agencies responsible for identifying and admitting refugees for resettlement into the United States, is a shining example of the longstanding American tradition of offering safe haven to those fleeing persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group,” it opened. “America has offered its protection to the world’s most vulnerable since its inception, and has allowed nearly five million refugees to resettle on its land since World War II. Our Nation’s assistance to displaced people throughout the world, particularly through the work of USRAP, allows our country to lead by example.”

No matter what the Supreme Court decides this fall, Knowles said Trump’s orders have significantly slowed the processing pipeline for refugees— a process many pro-immigration and refugee advocates previously said was insufficient under the Obama administration. Obama’s White House envisioned admitting more than 100,000 refugees in 2017’s federal fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017. Knowles said Trump’s cap, 50,000 refugees, was reached when he “hit pause.”

“At the point that they hit pause on us, we had already put into the so-called processing pipeline — the people already arrived or the people interviewed, and being vetted, having their medicals, finding sponsorships” — that threshold, he said. “We had enough people in the pipeline that we pretty much will meet the cap.”

Knowles, who is legally allowed to speak out on political issues as a union representative but not as a DHS asylum officer, said the union filed its Supreme Court brief because it felt Trump’s actions “reflects poorly on workers.” While that makes sense, Trump has repeated — incorrectly — that all federal immigration officials support him.