Dear President Trump and Members of Congress:
We, the undersigned healthcare providers, write in support of the U.S. refugee resettlement program and urge you to keep the program robust and available for refugees from all countries and backgrounds that have no other options for safety than to be resettled in the U.S.
Our support for the resettlement program is grounded in our expertise in physical and mental health and the recognition that resettlement offers opportunities to save and protect lives. There are currently over 21 million refugees worldwide, less than 1% of whom will ever be resettled. A hallmark of the refugee resettlement program in the U.S. is that it provides a life-saving option to the most vulnerable refugees, many in dire need of physical and mental health assistance. Resettlement, especially for children, is a health and safety imperative.
As victims of persecution, refugees experience a wide range of physical and mental health conditions such as trauma, malnutrition, and sexual and gender based violence. Once a refugee has fled his or her country of origin, they are susceptible to further health impacts while living in refugee camps, substandard urban housing, and while on the move. Refugees with disabilities and children are especially vulnerable to adverse health conditions that can endanger their growth, mental health, and physical wellbeing. With appropriate treatment, refugees and children go on to be healthy, happy, and successful.
Each refugee admitted to the United States through the resettlement program not only undergoes rigorous security screenings, but also receives a medical screening before arrival. Once a refugee arrives in their new community, resettlement providers and community support organizations diligently work to provide access to appropriate and often life-saving healthcare, including undergoing a second medical screening shortly after arrival. Additionally, the material and emotional support provided by individuals and community organizations serve as an integral part of building back up and sustaining the wellness of resettled refugees.
As healthcare providers, we are passionately committed to upholding our special obligation to uplift and provide protection and care to all human beings. Refugees who have been forced to flee their homes due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group are most especially deserving of our care and protection. Furthermore, resettled refugees and their children strengthen our health care system by becoming doctors, nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, and more.
In our nation’s founding document, we declare that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Refugee resettlement is an embodiment of that belief, providing an example to the world that our nation is rooted in the belief that all human beings possess inalienable rights and have the capacity to contribute to the common good. We urge you to support refugee resettlement and affirm the transformational role it plays in the lives of refugees themselves. Thank you for your public service, in this country that stands for so much to so many.