Washington, D.C. March 26, 2018 – Midway through Fiscal Year 2018, the Trump administration has admitted only a quarter of the 45,000 refugees it pledged to take in, making it highly unlikely that the United States will meets its anticipated admissions goal. Instead, the administration appears to be on track to admit roughly 22,000 refugees, far below any admissions number since the modern refugee program began in 1980. Today, Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) gathered experts to discuss the immediate and long-term implications of this failure.
Mary Giovagnoli, Executive Director of RCUSA, said “At a time when the world faces its worst refugee crisis since World War II, the United States is failing in its very limited commitment of admitting 45,000 refugees by September 30 of this year. At the sixth-month mark, the Refugee Admissions program has admitted and resettled only 10,147 refugees thus far. making it seemingly impossible to resettle 45,000 refugees by the end of the fiscal year. Travel and refugee bans, administrative obstacles, and duplicative vetting requirements have slowed the flow of refugees to a trickle, threatening to devastate the U.S.’ refugee Resettlement Program.”
Eleanor Acer, Senior Director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First, said, “only 42 Syrian refugees have arrived to the US so far this fiscal year” calling into question the US’ interest in providing critical stabilizing support to regions undergoing protracted crises.
Michael Breen, President and CEO of Truman Center for National Policy, said: “Accepting refugees is in the strategic and national security interests of the United States, especially when our leadership is needed in this time of global crisis. The current administration’s choices to admit a historically low number of refugees, slow the intake process for those few still being admitted, and disempower more refugee resettlement agencies should not be viewed as accidents or blunders; instead, they are part of a wider assault on American pluralism that will have serious effects on the lives of individual families as well as our standing on the world stage.” The US’ choice to step back from its leadership role during times of global crises opens the door for groups such as ISIS to take over the narrative, so to speak. In some ways, the US is offering them talking points, bolstering their claims that persons from certain parts of the world who practice certain religions are summarily unwelcome within these borders.
Matthew Soerens, Director of Church Mobilization at World Relief said, “just this fiscal year, more than 28,000 fewer refugees were admitted to the US compared to this time last fiscal year. We have far more churches wanting to help refugees than we do families arriving at the airport.” Soerens noted that the refugee resettlement program has been one of the most successful public-private partnerships, allowing the government to do far more to assist refugees than would be possible on its own. Soerens described the destruction of critical infrastructure that will hamper future resettlement and immigration, noting that refugee resettlement is not “just a spigot we can turn on and off as we please.”
Dekab Sagar, a former refugee from Somalia, noted that “being a refugee was never my choice. We stand here today in solidarity with the refugee resettlement program. America has always been a diverse place. We’re a nation of immigrants. We call on our government to uphold its commitment to resettle 45,000 refugees this fiscal year,” Dekab continued, “because for refugees, America is hope.”
Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition of 25 U.S.-based non-governmental organizations, is dedicated to refugee protection, welcome, and excellence in the U.S. refugee resettlement program. www.rcusa.org