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It did not take long for Paul Spiegel and Len Rubenstein to react after President Donald Trump first tried to institute a travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries. Shortly after that executive order was signed in late January, Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Rubenstein, a faculty member in the school’s Center for Public Health and Human Rights, responded with a comment in The Lancet. They called for the ban’s repeal, emphasizing the harm it could do to refugees who had fled war or persecution.

 

In particular, they focused on the plight of the millions of Syrians chased from their country by a brutal and chaotic civil war now entering its seventh year. The executive order would not only have blocked for four months the resettlement of all refugees hoping to come to America; it would have suspended indefinitely the entry of any Syrians, describing that influx as “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

 

Spiegel and Rubenstein pointed out that most of the refugees already chosen for resettlement in America were women and children, and that the vetting process involves multiple layers of security checks by numerous government agencies, lasting an average of 18 to 24 months. They added that since 1980, when the U.S. Refugee Act was passed, no refugee has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack in the United States.

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Johns Hopkins Magazine

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