The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) expresses its deep concern over any plan by the Administration to reduce the number of refugees the United States will accept during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
The consequences of this policy decision will have considerable reverberations both domestically and globally, negatively affecting both our economy and our national security. Moreover, any further reductions in the refugee ceiling, now at an all-time historic low, undermines the foundational principles of this country that welcomes people fleeing tyranny and persecution in its many forms.
We, at USCRI, understand the plight of people seeking refuge. Since 1911, USCRI has protected the rights and responded to the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide. USCRI has welcomed over 350,000 refugees and immigrants fleeing oppression from places like the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Iran, Cuba, and Haiti, to name a few.
In 2018, the Administration set the ceiling at 45,000 refugees and reduced the number in 2019 to 30,000, the lowest ceiling since the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed with bipartisan support in Congress. For nearly 40 years, the annual refugee resettlement target averaged 95,000 refugees from all over the world. This represents only .001% of the total number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide.
For those who believe that refugees are a drain on our economy, the numbers tell a different story. Refugees make an enormous net contribution to the U.S. economy with a fiscal impact over a ten-year period of $63 billion. Refugees paid $269 billion in taxes over that same period.
In cities such as St. Louis, Akron, Detroit, Columbus and Louisville, communities have been re-shaped by refugees—filling vacant jobs, buying homes, opening small businesses, joining the military and becoming U.S. citizens.
Americans have jealously guarded our global leadership, believing that the United States is best positioned to promote the values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, unity, and the strength in diversity worldwide. The United States has a rich history of welcoming refugees and immigrants from around the world—resulting in the diversity that has led us to the pinnacle on the world stage. Our country is great because we are a country built by immigrants, each successive wave contributing to the wealth of our social capital.
Emma Lazarus wrote these words that have defined us as Americans since our founding: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Americans need to keep open that door enshrined with the ethos of E pluribus Unum — “Out of many, one”
USCRI calls upon the Administration to raise, not lower, the refugee resettlement target in the best interests of the American people and our historical role and tradition in welcoming the stranger.