DENVER (CBS4)– A Coloradan and former refugee calls President Donald Trump’s plan to impose a record low cap on refugee admissions “inhumane.” Nga Vuong Sandoval was among thousands of people who fled the only life they knew after the Vietnam War to come to a country where many people didn’t want them.
“It was only by the grace of a compassionate president at the time who had a moral conscious to do the right thing. He accepted 130,000 refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.”
President Gerald Ford’s response to refugees then very different from Trump’s. Trump says he will cap refugee admissions at 18,000 next year. They’ve averaged 95,000 for decades.
“It’s not only inhumane, it’s unconscionable,” said Vuong Sandoval. “Millions of refugees have already been vetted right now and will be denied admission because of the cut.”
Refugees – unlike the asylum seekers at the border – have already gone through an extensive years-long screening process and their claim for asylum has been approved. There are about 26 million refugees right now waiting for a country to take them in, half of them are children.
Vuong Sandovol traveled to Washington D.C. and lobbied Colorado’s members of Congress to intervene.
Both Democrats and Republicans wrote the Secretary of State in strong support of refugees but only the Democrats pressed him on the cap. Congressman Joe Neguse, a Democrat representing Colorado, whose parents are African refugees, has introduced legislation that would require at least 95,000 refugee admissions a year. The bill would also prevent the president from lowering the cap. So far, the bill has no Republican co-sponsors.
Republican Congressman Ken Buck says Congress needs to address the border crisis first, “I understand what the president is doing. I also understand that our country has always been generous in opening our door to refugees and I think we should continue to be generous and allow in as many refugees as possible. The problem is we have so many people coming across the southern border who are draining resources that could be used to process refugees.”
Historically, the refugee program has been funded separately and has been bi-partisan. Until now, the United States has been the most welcoming country. Vuong Sandoval says it still can be, “We need to do better than this.”