Refugees in US continue to face Trump-era 'Muslim ban' obstacles under Biden
Washington D.C. - On his first day in office, when US President Joe Biden kept his promise to reverse Donald Trump's "Muslim ban", many hoped it would end the implications of the previous executive order. But five years later, refugees and other immigrants from the Muslim world continue to face the same obstacles.
"The refugee system has been completely broken since the ban. It's not at all fixed," Mariko Hirose, litigation director at the International Refugees Assistance Project, told The New Arab. "This is because even though Biden repealed the Muslim ban, there were a lot of other changes that Trump made."
These changes included an extreme vetting system, decreased staffing, and other resources for processing applications leading to delays of months or even years.
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) issued on Friday a report that highlighted the one-year anniversary of Biden pledge to restore the refugee programme, which they saw as having fallen short of its goals.
IRAP, in the case of Darweesh v. Trump, was the first to challenge Trump's executive order.
Though the organisation did prevail in another lawsuit arguing against the order, the previous administration was able to quietly pass it the following year.
In Biden's executive order to reverse the ban, he stated that he would make the application process "more transparent", prioritise keeping families together, and increase overall efficiency.
A year later, the process remains a similar experience for applicants to how it was under Trump.
"There's only a trickle of people coming in, particularly from certain Muslim countries where they were coming in prior to the Trump administration," Hirose said.
The number of refugees was currently closer to what they were in the Trump era than what they were during Obama's time in office.
In 2016, Barack Obama’s last year in office, refugee arrivals were at 84,994. In 2020, it was 11,814. In 2021, Biden’s first year in office, it was just 11,411.
"The US made a commitment to be a place of refuge for people fleeing persecution and we should live up to that commitment," said Hirose.