Anne C. Richard, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International
Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy
Moderated by Maureen White, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute

February 7, 2017

Experts gathered at the Washington, DC campus for a discussion on the consequences of President Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order suspends the US refugee admission program, severely restricts entry from seven majority-Muslim countries, and bars all Syrian refugees from entering the country indefinitely.

Michel Gabaudan said that the order risks conflating victims with perpetrators by associating refugees with terrorists. He also reminded the audience that the situation in the United States is completely different from that in Europe. Refugees who were able to enter the US were all vetted before arrival, while those in Europe are evaluated once they are already on European soil.

Anne Richard talked about the previous administration’s efforts to show leadership on the issue of refugees. She also noted that while many have called for “extreme vetting,” it is unclear what this means. Maureen White pointed out that vetting for refugees is already very thorough. It currently involves eight federal agencies, six security databases, five background checks, four biometrics security checks, three separate in-person interviews and two inter-agency security checks.

Ruth Wedgwood argued against the flawed notion that 'if the US does not welcome refugees someone else will.' In the case of refugees, the United States' identity as the indispensable nation holds true, Wedgwood said.