Islamic travel ban lifted

President Biden has lifted a travel ban on five predominantly Muslim districts, which could mean that refugees from the country could soon come to Georgia.

President Joe Biden’s reversal of the Trump administration’s immigration policy means more refugees will settle in Georgia.

The executive order lifts the so-called “Muslim travel ban” introduced by the previous government. It slowed or stopped immigration from five Muslim majority countries, in addition to North Korea and some people from Venezuela.

It’s welcome news for refugees and resettlement programs.

“We are very excited about changes in policy that will strengthen our community and the country’s history of being a welcome place for refugees and immigrants,” said Jim Neal, chairman of the Coalition of Refugee Agencies.

Neal is also Director of Operations at Friends of Refugees.

Neal said the travel ban kept families apart.

“The opportunity to make progress on family reunification is encouraging for us,” said Neal.

The Biden government has also proposed increasing the number of refugees admitted to the US to 125,000 this fiscal year.

This is more than eight times higher than the historically low ceiling set by the previous government.

“Now it will take some time for this to have a direct impact on Georgia and the number of refugees Georgia will take in. Just because of the infrastructure,” said Neal.

In 2019, 1,330 refugees relocated to Georgia. Last year, that number fell to just under 504.

In 2015, 3,054 were relocated to the state, followed by 3,180 the next year, 2,179 in 2017 and 1,015 in 2018.

Neal said the change in policy resulted in the closure of a Georgia-based refugee resettlement organization.

Overall, he said the impact on organizations was not as great as in other states due to Georgia’s high resettlement success rate.

He said it was encouraging as they prepare to feel the effects of the executive order.

“I think it will take a while to rebuild, but we have the foundation here and, above all, this culture of welcoming.”

Neal also points out that the resettlement success affects more than just the immigrant community.

“One in ten Georgians was born abroad, one in seven workers, one in five doctors and one in three small business owners was born abroad in this country. Measures that affect immigration and the resettlement of refugees affect us all.” Said Neal.

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