Frequently Asked Questions
The International Institute of New England is committed to keeping people informed of changes in law and policy that impact our work. Below are responses to frequently asked questions on President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order limiting migration to the United States and general questions about the Institute.
Impact of the President's Executive Order
+ What did President Trump's Executive Order attempt to do?
President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on January 27, 2017 is titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order attempted to suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days for all populations, place an indefinite ban on the entry of all Syrians, including Syrian refugees, to the U.S., and suspend the admission of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The Order immediately reduced the number of refugees that the U.S. will admit in fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017) from 110,000 to 50,000.
+ What is the status of the Executive Order?
On Friday, February 3, 2017, Federal District Court Judge James L. Robart, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued a temporary restraining order halting certain provisions of the Executive Order. Judge Robart presides in the Federal District of Washington State, and the lawsuit was brought by the Attorney General of the state of Washington. The temporary restraining order, however, applies to the entire country. Judge Robart’s ruling orders federal agencies to disregard five provisions of President Trump’s Executive Order:
- Section 3 (c) – a 90-day suspension of the issuance of visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- Section 5 (a) – a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.
- Section 5 b) – a directive to the administrators of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of origin.”
- Section 5 (c) – an indefinite ban on the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States.
- Section 5 (e) – to the extent that it prioritizes refugee claims of certain religious minorities.
+ What happened on appeal?
A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling. A hearing on a preliminary injunction on the Executive Order, which could make the Temporary Restraining Order permanent, will take place after February 17th. The White House is weighing other options including issuing a new Executive Order and an appeal to either the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
+ What is the impact of these legal developments on the International Institute of New England and other organizations that resettle refugees?
The order by Judge Robart did not reverse Section 5 (d) of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order, which reduces the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. this year from 110,000 to 50,000. The power to set the annual number of refugees admitted is held by the President. As of February 9, 2017, 33,929 refugees have been admitted to the U.S., with 16,071 that can come by September 30 2017 to meet the new 50,000 cap. The State Department has instructed the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to book arrivals through March 3rd, and the department will be reducing quotas for each voluntary agency, including USCRI, in the next few weeks. The International Institute of New England expects to resettle fewer refugees this year and possibly in future years if President Trump holds the program to a 50,000 cap each year.
+ Has this Executive Order impacted all services provided by the Institute?
No. The Institute is currently serving more than 625 refugees who arrived here in the past year. These refugees are enrolled in our case management and job training/placement programs. In addition, we are serving other immigrants, including asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, victims of human trafficking, and other immigrants. More than 1,200 clients are currently receiving services at our Boston, Lowell, and Manchester, New Hampshire field offices. They are enrolled in Adult Basic Education classes, participating in skills training programs, receiving job placement assistance, and receiving case management services.
+ Why did President Trump issue this order?
The stated rationale for the Executive Order is to prevent people with terrorist ties from entering the U.S. The order references the September 11th attacks but does not ban the admission of people from Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of 19 of the 9/11 terrorists. The order also does not limit migration from Pakistan, Egypt, and Pakistan where extremism has produced militants nor does it restrict migration from Europe where several terrorist attacks have taken place.
+ If fully implemented, will the Executive Order make the nation safer?
Nearly all security experts say it will not. Most say that a geographic approach to combating terrorism is insufficient because terrorist threats do not originate in any one country. In fact, in recent years, we have learned that most terrorist threats on American soil are homegrown. Experts say that the order will raise resentment among American Muslims, and it will energize recruitment efforts by Isis because it confirms their claim that America is at war with Muslims.
+ When the legal wrangling is over, will the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program be changed?
Yes and No. Provisions of the Executive Order that were not struck down by Judge Robarts will shape the purpose and function of the program. They include:
- The President has amended the previous Presidential Determination for Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2017, which had allowed for the admission of up to 110,000 refugees, to an amended maximum number of 50,000 refugees.
- The executive order directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to examine existing law to determine if the executive could provide more determinative power to state and local governments.
+ Will federal direct assistance to refugees be reduced as a result of this Executive Order?
The executive order did not include restrictions on services to refugees, the funding of which is dependent upon Congress. Each refugee receives $925 from the federal government to help them get started in the U.S., and they are eligible for other federal assistance. Appropriations have already been allocated through April 28, 2017. Additional funds, however, must be appropriated on or before April 28, 2017 when the current continuing resolution ends.
The International Institute works to raise about $1,000 per refugee beyond federal funding in private funds from individuals, church groups, corporations and foundations in order to sustain both programming and rising area costs that impact client expenses. These funds allow us to provide quality services to refugees. Our fundraising efforts have intensified because of the uncertainty of the program, and we appreciate any contributions that people can make. To learn more, please visit iine.org/take-action.
General Refugee Resettlement and IINE Questions
+ How many refugees does the United States resettle each year?
Since 1975, the U.S. has admitted more than 3.3 million refugees, an average of 80,000 per year. From 2012 to 2015, the U.S. admitted 70,000 refugees per year, and in 2016, because of the global refugee crisis, the U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees. President Obama raised the ceiling to 110,000 in FY17 because he wanted the U.S. to play a leadership role in a humanitarian crisis that has driven the number of refugees to 21.3 million worldwide, the most since the end of World War II.
+ How many refugees does IINE resettle each year and where do they come from?
In the past several years, we have resettled an average of 600 refugees per year. Newly arrived refugees represent about one third of clients the Institute serves each year. Refugees come to New England from Bhutan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. By the end of February of 2017, we anticipate resettling 273 refugees, 44% of our 625 approved ceiling for this year.
+ Has the refugee resettlement program ever been shut down before?
After 9/11, when the nation was attacked, the program was suspended for less than three months. Since 9/11, the nation has strengthened its security systems and made it more difficult for people to enter the country. There is more surveillance and more information on people entering the U.S. than ever before in our history, and we have not suffered an attack similar to 9/11.
+ How are refugees screened now?
The United States has the most organized and carefully managed refugee admissions process in the world. After screening by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. are vetted by the U.S National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security. Syrian refugees are subject to additional background checks. U.S. security agencies have complete control over who is, and who is not, admitted to the country as a refugee, and ensure compliance with the Patriot Act and other laws restricting admission of anyone associated with terrorism.
+ Have any refugees been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack on U.S. soil?
No person accepted to the U.S. as a refugee, including from Syria, has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 was enacted according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.
+ What is the financial impact of the reduction in refugees on the International Institute of New England?
The services we provide newly arrived refugees in their first year in the United States represent 25% of the Institute’s annual operating budget of $6.3 million. Our work, which requires staff to dedicate approximately 75 hours of case management time to each refugee, involves welcoming refugees at either Manchester or Logan airport and taking them to a furnished apartment provisioned with clothing and food. Within days of arrival, our staff helps clients apply for Social Security and other public benefits, arranges medical appointments, enrolls them in a healthcare plan, familiarizes them with public transit, and enrolls refugee children in public schools. The staff works with clients to build a household budget, assesses each adult’s employability, and helps adults to find jobs as quickly as possible. Each client enrolls in English and cultural orientation classes. Given the expected reduction in the number of refugees coming to our Lowell, Boston, and Manchester, New Hampshire field offices for the remainder of the fiscal year (September 30, 2017), we are projecting a $344,000 loss in federal funds for the Institute’s administrative costs in FY17. We will endeavor to make up this shortfall with private fundraising.
+ Where do I find out information about the International Institute of New England's acountability and transparency?
The Institute is monitored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants (MORI), the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs (OMHRA), and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). These agencies review case files and interview clients to ensure we are providing quality services.
Copies of our Form 990, Annual Report, and Audited Financial statements are available at iine.org/about.
+ How can we help?
The best way to help the International Institute is with a contribution of any size. The Institute’s refugee resettlement operation is a public-private partnership that relies every year on community financial support to provide a comprehensive range of services. Despite shifts in federal funding, we need to be ready to receive each refugee we are fortunate to serve. About 65% of our funding comes from public sources, and 35% comes from private donations, which we need now more than ever. Visit iine.org/take-action to make a donation.