We write today to provide an update on how the recent Executive Order (EO) on immigration and refugees will affect North Korean refugees and our work.
The EO suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program globally for 120 days, for a review process to “determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States” (Sec. 5.a).
North Koreans who have escaped the most repressive country in the world are not exempt from this suspension, meaning North Koreans seeking refuge in the United States will not be able to gain admission during at least the next four months.
We know from experience that it is already not easy for North Koreans to gain refugee status to resettle in the United States as there is a strong vetting process currently in place. It can take many months, even over a year, and involves repeated in-depth interviews and screenings by various U.S. government agencies. We therefore believe it to be unnecessary and unfortunate to suspend the entire U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and further delay the start of these refugees’ lives in freedom.
We are proud of our work helping North Korean refugees in their escape and assisting them in reaching countries like the United States and South Korea where they can begin new lives in safety and freedom. We are thankful to all our supporters who have made this work possible and have welcomed these individuals into their communities. It has been incredible to see our North Korean friends here in America learn English, enroll in universities, get married and begin families, find gainful employment, and even start their own businesses.
A while ago we asked Anna–a North Korean refugee who we helped resettle in the US–her thoughts as she celebrated Independence Day. She said, “This country accepted me, embraced me, and gave me an opportunity to spread my wings.”
Today, we renew our commitment to protecting North Korean refugees and to helping them resettle in societies where they can live in safety, freedom, and dignity and live fulfilling lives as valuable members of their new societies.
Thank you, as ever, for your support.
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