WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leading faith, business and national security voices urged the Trump administration to commit to accepting more refugees in 2021 on a press call today.
With an approaching Oct. 1 deadline for an announcement of the fiscal year 2021 refugee ceiling, the Trump administration has yet to consult with Congress on the number — a step required by law — raising concerns that refugee resettlement will be further reduced or eliminated altogether.
Refugee resettlement in the U.S. already had hit historic lows during the Trump administration. With a refugee ceiling of 18,000 this fiscal year — the lowest since the U.S. refugee resettlement program began in 1980 — only 10,892 new refugees have been resettled in the country.
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Elizabeth Neumann, former Assistant Secretary of Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention at the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration:
“As a Christian and as an American, the administration’s approach to refugees does not uphold our values or keep us safe. Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted populations that are admitted to the United States. This administration’s approach is not based on security, but on a larger effort to keep out the stranger. Delaying the processing of refugees is increasing the root causes that lead to radicalization and potentially creating more terrorists. From a national security perspective, closing the door will not help us.”
Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Migration and Refugee Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“For decades, the U.S. has been a global leader in refugee resettlement, providing freedom and opportunity to those fleeing persecution and setting an example for other countries around the world. The sharp decline in admissions of those fleeing religious persecution — such as Iraqi Christians and Jewish refugees from Iran — is gravely concerning, and these communities will undoubtedly suffer further if the Trump administration does not act. People fleeing violence and persecution do not pose a threat. We urge the president to issue a presidential determination and continue our commitment to welcoming refugees.”
Gideon Maltz, Executive Director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees:
“While the principal reasons for the U.S. to resettle refugees are firstly humanitarian and secondly strategic, there are also clear economic benefits for businesses and communities. Refugees are some of the most hard-working, resilient, and dedicated workers, and they make an outsize contribution to the American economy. This has become even more apparent in the last few months, where we have seen refugees across the U.S. on the frontlines of the pandemic. From doctors and nurses, through to delivery drivers and supermarket workers, refugees have gone above and beyond to keep our communities healthy and safe. Even today, in an economic downturn with many Americans out of work, it’s essential to understand that our economy will only be harmed further if we turn away refugees.”
Chris Palusky, President and CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“The number of displaced people worldwide was at a record high at the end of 2019. The challenges of COVID-19 are especially severe for people who are on the move and who are desperately seeking safety. I’ve spent my entire career working with humanitarian groups to address global crises, and I’ve never seen a crisis of such scale and urgency. The President has repeatedly expressed his commitment to persecuted religious minorities around the world. It is imperative that the U.S. commit to resettling more refugees in 2021. We have the infrastructure to respond and to do so in a manner that keeps refugees and Americans safe.”
Jacinta Ma, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, National Immigration Forum:
“Across the country, countless refugees are contributing alongside native-born Americans as we get through the pandemic. But under the Trump administration, refugee admissions have reached historic lows. Refugee resettlement and the asylum process have faced growing threats under the Trump administration, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Restoring our nation’s commitment to a robust refugee program is of vital importance not only to our national security, but to our country’s values as a haven of freedom and opportunity.”