On June 8, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act of 2017, H.R. 2826, which would make it more difficult for refugees to resettle in the U.S. The bill would go against our country’s core value of helping the most vulnerable and would damage America’s reputation as a welcoming country.
What would the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act do?
- Significantly reduce the number of refugee admissions to the U.S. The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act would slash the number of refugee admissions to 50,000 per year. The U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees in fiscal year (FY) 2016 and set the cap for refugees at 110,000 for FY 2017.
- Allow state and local government officials to refuse refugees. The bill would allow certain state and local government officials to prevent refugee resettlement in their state or locality. Such a measure would harm many communities because refugees start new businesses, buy houses, pay taxes and spend money as customers. It also would be impractical to enforce because refugees could move to such places after they arrive in the U.S.
- Prioritize minority-religion refugee applicants. For certain countries, the bill would give priority consideration to applicants who practice a minority religion and face persecution because of their beliefs.
- The U.S. would not be able to provide protection for the most vulnerable individuals who share a religion with the majority of their country’s population, even if they are fleeing persecution based on differences in interpretation or practice of that religion.
- Many refugees would be prevented from being resettled in the U.S., including Christian refugees fleeing political persecution in the Central African Republic and minorities who are persecuted in Burma but practice Buddhism.
- Increase the time refugees must reside in the U.S. before applying for permanent residency. The bill would extend the current time refugees must wait to become eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status from one to three years. This provision would impose a significant barrier to integration and family reunification, making each one more difficult and lengthening the time it takes for refugees to become self-sufficient.