When President Trump was sworn into office, he promised to strengthen our national security and bolster policies that prioritize the needs of American citizens. One of the first areas he tackled was the United States’ refugee resettlement program, a program first established in 1948 by the U.S. Congress.
A large majority of refugees assigned by the federal government to Oklahoma in the past 15 years have come from Myanmar, a southeast Asian country ranked by Open Doors USA as #18 for extreme persecution of Christians.
In the past year, President Trump directed the State Department to strengthen the vetting process for refugees and he reduced the cap on refugees coming into the U.S. to 18,000 for 2020 – a historic low for our nation.
I am a supporter of President Trump’s refugee policies and his administration’s efforts to strengthen the security review of applicants, a process that now includes social media checks and gives more authority to adjudicators to deny refugee applications. I also appreciate that the President’s executive order, issued on Sept. 26, 2019, empowers states with a mechanism to further speak into the United States’ resettlement program.
As the President outlined in the executive order, I submitted consent for Oklahoma to continue to receive refugees, for the time being, and I will leverage the State’s consent authority to ensure the number of refugees entering our state does not exceed roughly 220 individuals this year, or 1.2% of the United States’ refugee intake, a size consistent with Oklahoma’s history on this matter.
A “refugee” is a term used for individuals fleeing dire political or religious persecution in their home countries and are eligible to legally relocate after a thorough vetting process by national security agencies.
Oklahomans have long extended a compassionate hand towards refugees. This was most recently demonstrated in a letter my office received from more than 100 Oklahoma faith leaders and by outreach from faith-based non-profits who are committed to the task of helping a refugee become a productive, contributing member of our society.
I respect and appreciate Oklahomans who stand ready to assist those fleeing persecution, and I will continue to support President Trump’s efforts to close loopholes across our immigration system and tighten security processes, as this gives much-needed assurance to Oklahoma’s communities about the integrity of the refugee program.