Please welcome David Miliband.
-♪ -(cheering, applause)
-Welcome, sir. -Thank you.Great to be here with you.
Uh... great to be here,
but not at a good timefor the IRC.
For those who don't know,real quick--
-what does the IRC do? -So, theInternational Rescue Committee
was founded by Albert Einsteinhere in New York in 1933
to rescue Jews from Europe.
Today we're an internationalhumanitarian aid organization
in 30 war-torn countries,where people are having
their lives ruinedby war and conflict,
and across the U.S.,in 29 cities,
we resettle refugees here.
13,000 refugees founda new life here
with the IRC in 2016.
-(cheering, applause)-So, so...
you-you guys are doing...you're doing amazing work,
and you're on the ground,you know, in contact with...
the faces behind the story.
You know, everyone talksabout the refugees,
and they say all these things, "The refugees..."
But these are peoplethat you are working with.
When the executive order...
slash, uh, travel ban came down,
how did that affectwhat you are actually doing
with these people?
So, immediately,our staff around the world
faced this terrible problem--
a propaganda giftfor ISIS and for Al-Qaeda,
who want to say that America
will never look afterMuslim populations.
That's immediatelythe emboldening of enemies,
never mind the shockfor the allies.
For our refugeeresettlement work here,
we immediately facethe prospect, first,
-of the halving of the numbersof refugees. -Yeah.
But there's also the human sideof the story.
That gets lostin the statistics.
Look, today we're dealingwith the case
of a family, a man, who helpedthe U.S. forces in Iraq.
He found a new home herein 2014,
-because he was admittedas a refugee. -Yes.
His wife had to go throughfurther checks.
She passed those checks,and she booked a plane ride
to come hereon the 7th of February.
What does she get toldjust last weekend?
She's told the gatehas been shut on you.
You're gonna have to remainaway from your husband.
Now, that is nota fictional story.
That is a real case today.
Actually, the man's in theaudience here today.
-They're right here.-He is here.
-And I want to acknowledge them,-(cheering and applause)
because he is not a threatto America.
(cheering and applause)
That man is not someone whoAmericans should be afraid of.
They shouldn't be afraidof his family.
They should be cheering that manbecause he wants to become
a productive and patrioticcitizen in this country.
Let's talk about two things,then, off that.
I'll play devil's advocatefor a second,
and say, how do you respondto people in the U.S.?
And I mean, you're not justresponsible for reallocating
or relocating refugeesin the U.S.,
but also all over the world.
So how do you respond to someonewho says,
"Yeah, but I don't knowwho's safe.
"I don't know if anyonemay sneak through.
"These may be good people,but how do we know
that we're not putting ourselvesin danger?"
So it's harder to getto the U.S. as a refugee
than through any other route.
It's 18 monthsof security checks,
biometric tests, interviews.
So that you go through 12 to 15different parts
of the U.S. government,making sure
that you arewho you say you are,
that you're going to be someonewho lives by the laws
-of this country and contributesto this country. -Yeah.
Now, the truth is thatrefugees are not terrorists.
They are victims of terror.They've got...
They are being bombedout of their homes across Syria,
which is the largestrefugee population,
and the refugee population
has been bannedfrom this country indefinitely.
These are people who have losteverything to ISIS,
to the Russians,to the Assad government.
And they're now being toldthey can't find a future
here in the U.S.
Let-Let's talk a little bitabout the fact that...
I mean, these are peoplewho are running away
from the very same enemy thatAmerica is trying to target.
And so, for all intentsand purposes,
people on the same side.
Now what's happeningis ISIS is using this
as a recruitment tool saying,"As you can see,
"America doesn't want Muslimsin their country,
and so we are your only option."
We've got to understandthat the generational challenge
that's being posed by extremistgroups around the world
is one where they are verystrategic in who they attack
and how they do it and whatmessages they put out.
And we've got to beequally strategic
about the wayin which we do that.
I'm not in government anymore.I'm running a nonpartisan
NGO, which is actually tryingto help people on the ground.
But the governmentshave to be as smart
as the people who aretrying to do us damage.
And this country, in truth,
the heart and soulof the country,
is people who've come fromall over the world
and made a new start here
and contributedto what this country is.
And I think thatthat messaging--
that America willturn its back on Muslims,
that you can never trust them--is the worst possible message.
It's a propaganda gift for thosewho would do damage to the U.S.
If-if you were to speak to anAmerican who is against this,
an America who says,"I'm putting America first,
"I have nothing against refugees
"or any immigrants, but I thinkAmerica should be first,
this is not helping America,"
how would yourespond to that person?
I'd say it's not just rightto welcome refugees here--
it's smart. John Kennedy,when he set up USAID,
the international aid agencyof the U.S. government, in 1961,
he said it befits Americaand it benefits America
to promote stabilityaround the world.
And that isthe essential argument.
The world's got smaller.And the truth is--
you-you know this-- if yourneighbor's house is on fire,
-your house is on fire.-Your house is on fire. Yeah.
And we've got to learnthat lesson today.
There are 7.5 billion peopleon the planet.
Yes, we've got to take careof the home front.
But you don't take careof the home front by pretending
that you're isolatedfrom the rest of the world.
Uh, you-you served,
before you got involvedin-in the IRC,
as um, secretary of state,essentially,
for-for the U.K.,
uh, a position thatRex Tillerson is now filling
for-for the U.S.
In-in your first-- what was it--your first week, maybe,
you also had issueswith the Russians,
-if I remember correctly.-(chuckles) Yeah. The...
Um, it's not a laughing matter,actually. The...
(stammers)the first issue on my desk in...
-in, uh...-We've laughed already.
The-the first issue on my deskin 2007
was that the Russianswere refusing to operate
in the investigation of a murder
-of British citizenon British soil. -Yeah.
It was the Litvinenko case.And so the first issue I had
was how many diplomatsdo we expel
from the Russian embassyin London.
And Rex Tillerson has got aninbox teeming with issues today.
And I think it's reallyimportant that he understands
that in the foreign serviceof the U.S.,
you've got tremendously talentedofficials who are real experts.
And one of the lessonsof the last week
is that hasty policy-makingis bad policy-making.
And his job, it seems to me,is to harness all that expertise
-that exists in the U.S.State Department -Mm-hmm.
and make sure it's brought
so thatevidence-based policy-making,
fact-based policy-makingisn't something from history--
it's something that we live by.
Let's look at the U.K. fora second before I let you go.
Um, Theresa May,who is now, you know,
Prime Minister of the U.K. isin an interesting position
where she's having to guidethe U.K. through Brexit.
You know, the hard Brexits.
You have some of the Torieswho are against it, you know.
Everyone's... everyone's sayinga different thing.
But Theresa May is tryingto saddle up to Donald Trump
and build a relationshipwith the new American president.
What is Britain's future,and what is Britain's role
in all of thiswith regards to refugees,
with regardsto moving the world forward?
And is Britain doingexactly the same thing--
going, "Yeah, we are alsoseparate from the world.
"We have Brexited,America has also Americaing..."?
-I don't knowwhat they'd call it. -(laughter)
But, like, is that whatthe relationship is now?
Well, there is a common theme.
Let's be honest about politicsin America,
in Britain, across Europe.
The common theme is,"Our problems," people say,
"are caused not by us.
-They're someone else's faults."-Yes.
And the heart of politics today,
the big argument in politicstoday is, let's take that on.
Because the truth is,the problems
that exist in Americaor Britain--
we've got to take responsibilityfor our own issues.
And Britain has had a specialrelationship with the U.S.
Long may that continue.
But I always say to people,
a special relationship bringsspecial responsibility,
and the greatest responsibilityis to speak truth to power,
becausethat's what friends are for.
And in this case,
the refugee ban is actuallya threat not just to America.
It's a threat to what the whole
of Western world saysit stands for.
And it seems to meabsolutely vital that Britain,
in or out of Europe--it's got to stand up
for the values,as well as the interests
that have made the countrystrong over the years.
If people want to get involved,
-if people want to help, whatcan they do? -The great thing
about running the IRC is
we're not just workingaround the world.
We're working in 29 U.S. cities.
Please visit rescue.org,the IRC Web site.
Please volunteerto help mentor
and support refugeeswho are arriving.
Please make sure
that you take up the factswith your congressman.
And of course,I wouldn't be doing my job
if I didn't say, donateand support us if you can.
-Thank you so much for beinghere. -Thank you very much.
David Miliband, everybody.