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Fears over migrants unfounded, Refugees Northwest director says

(File, Associated Press)

America’s treatment of refugees has come under scrutiny and faced international condemnation due to policies enacted by the Trump administration.

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Now, it seems many Americans feel that we need to take care of ourselves first, before worrying about others.

Beth Farmer, the director of Refugees Northwest, says when it comes to refugees, there aren’t many surprises. Every year the limit on how many refugees the U.S. will allow is set — 45,000 this year. Those people are processed before they enter the country.

“So when people get here as refugees, there is an extreme amount of security vetting and medical vetting,” Farmer explained on Seattle’s Morning News.

This means the U.S. government is expecting the refugees before they get here.

“Absolutely, they are secured before they get here,” Farmer said.

So what about asylum seekers?

Because there is a cap on the number of refugees we allow into the country, a “vast majority of the world” is left out, Farmer says. Many of those places have extreme human rights issues. Those fleeing their current conditions are then forced to ask for asylum when they reach U.S. soil, which is the only way to secure refugee-like status.

Many asylum seekers are turned away at the borders. Farmer says even those who try to enter the U.S. legally are given erroneous information and forced to try and enter illegally.

This spring, under the Trump administration, thousands of children were separated from their parents at the Mexico border as the adults await immigration processing. Farmer says most people who try to get asylum are detained. At the Northwest Detention Center, people are detained for up to a year, even if they try to cross the border legally, she says.

But who are the people trying to enter the country and start new lives in places like the Pacific Northwest? The vast majority, Farmer says, are parents concerned for their children’s safety. They are risking their lives to flee extreme violence.

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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