“I never expected to risk arrest protesting a current Secretary of State,” wrote former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration and current Linowitz Professor of International Affairs Anne C. Richard in a Newsweek essay. Titled I’m a Former Assistant Secretary of State. Yesterday I was Arrested Protesting Secretary Pompeo’s Policies on Refugees, the op-ed appeared on Oct. 16.
As one of 18 protestors arrested in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, Richard was calling “attention to Trump Administration moves to shut down a lifesaving program for refugees.” She outlined how “the Trump Administration seeks to destroy not just a Federal program, but an American tradition of serving as a sanctuary for the threatened and persecuted that stretches back to the Pilgrims.”
The protest occurred hours before Secretary Pompeo met with Congress before “this year's refugee admissions cap—18,000—the lowest cap in the history of the resettlement program” was finalized. Each of the 18 protestors represented 1,000 refugees that the administration plans to accept in the next year.
According to Richard, “Since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) was authorized by Congress in 1980, the United States has set an average refugee cap of 95,000 refugees each year.” She expressed concern that the drastically reduced number of refugees allowed to enter the country next year would cause “a carefully constructed refugee pipeline" to shut down, making it harder for the United States to resettle more refugees in the future.
In closing she wrote, “Resettlement saves lives and is key to U.S. foreign policy interests. Refugees contribute to the U.S. economy and become powerful ambassadors of the American dream.”