In the wake of the election last Tuesday, many groups are worried how President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will affect them. One such group is refugees, hoping to come to the United States from war-torn Syria or violence-ravaged Central America. Many of these refugees are unaccompanied children, who arrive without guardianship or authorization. Will they have a place in Trump’s America, or will they too be subjected to his rigid policies? The answer is, resoundingly, the latter.
President-elect Trump has openly discussed his plan for children refugees entering the United States. During a town hall event held in Salem, New Hampshire on February 8, 2016, Darren Ornitz, a 30-year-old resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, asked then if Trump would personally keep refugee children from Syria out of the country. His answer was decisive:
“I can look at their faces and say, ‘Look, you can’t come here.’ … Their parents should always stay with them. But we don’t know where their parents come from. We have no documentation whatsoever. There’s absolutely no way of saying where these people come from.”
Trump’s reasoning for not accepting refugees is because it is difficult to track their origins, screening processes are not rigorous enough, and that some may be looking to expand terrorist or criminal enterprises abroad. However, Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First states that refugees go through more security checks than any other people attempting to enter the United States. NPR’s This American Life documented the struggle to contact the asylum office in order to begin the process, which takes weeks or sometimes months.
The Trump campaign had a history of dehumanizing refugees and immigrants as dangerous criminals. Trump has referred to Mexicans as “rapists” and drug traffickers in his presidential announcement. Some may recall that while campaigning for his father, Donald Trump Jr. compared refugees to Skittles via Twitter. The image he shared said, “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” Trump Jr. received heavy criticism for his comparison of people to candy, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, who wrote, “Syrian refugees are fellow human beings who have left their country to escape war and terrorism. Depictions like these are dehumanizing, demeaning and dangerous.”
Trump plans to enact a number of policies that will make it harder to for refugees and immigrants to enter the country. According to the President-elect’s website, he will strive to end sanctuary cities, which are locations in which a person cannot be prosecuted solely for being an undocumented individual. He has also stated he end to catch-and-release, suspend visas to countries where “adequate screening cannot occur,” and most infamously, build a wall separating the United States from Mexico.
Ultimately, President-elect Trump will be imposing stricter policies on the American border for both child and adult refugees. His logic is that by restricting border access he will be protecting American jobs and American lives, though there is no conclusive evidence that this will be the case. Those looking for asylum may want cast their sights to America’s neighbor to the north — Canada is working to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into its country and has established a comprehensive Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program.