The information below is quite startling and we are in danger of basically eliminating our USA refugee resettlement program.
This week, the Trump administration could make the unprecedented decision to “zero out” the US refugee program. In other words, the president could close the door to any refugees resettled through the US refugee program in the United States in FY 2021. This decision could take place despite the presence of nearly 25 million refugees worldwide in need of protection, of whom less than one percent are resettled to third countries annually.
Since the formal advent of the US refugee program in the 1970s, the nation has resettled, on average, 95,000 refugees per year. Since then, 3 million refugees have been resettled through the program and have become contributing members of our nation.
Under current law, the president must issue a presidential determination each year designating the number of refugees the United States will resettle in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts October 1st. Last year, the administration set a refugee ceiling of 18,000, the lowest amount ever. Even so, only about half that total will be resettled this year in the US, a trickle compared to earlier years.
If the president delays the issuance of a determination until past the beginning of the fiscal year, refugee resettlement halts. If the president issues a determination with zero as the number—an unprecedented act—the program could stop for the entire fiscal year. Many of the refugees resettled in 2020 were fleeing religious persecution, including Christian refugees.
The US refugee resettlement program, operated out of the US Department of State, has been a model public-private partnership serving the most vulnerable persons in the world for decades. Nine non-profit resettlement agencies, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in conjunction with Catholic Charities programs around the country, receive refugees and help them integrate into local communities across the nation. The refugees are expected to become self-sufficient within a year, and many do.
The program is also safe, as refugees are vetted thoroughly, undergoing multiple security reviews and interviews before arriving in the United States. Despite the claim by opponents that the program brings in security threats to our nation, there has not been one refugee who came through the program involved in a terrorist attack on US soil.
I have traveled to Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world to visit with refugees, and by and large I have found them to be resilient and hard-working people who simply want a chance to live their lives in safety. They have been forced to leave their homelands because of persecution and wars and have survived horrific situations. They deserve the protection of our nation, which has been built on the backs of immigrants and refugees.
The Trump administration has done everything it can to weaken the US refugee program and now they want to kill it, despite its success. This is contrary to President Trump’s pledge to protect Christian refugees during his 2016 campaign.
Let’s pray that President Trump and his administration do not continue down this road and instead allows this program to keep performing its live-saving work.