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Statement of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants on the Presidential Determination Signed Today for the Refugee Admissions Ceiling

By USCRI April 16, 2021

 

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is disheartened by President Biden’s decision not to lift former President Trump’s refugee resettlement cap of 15,000 for fiscal year 2021 in the Presidential Determination signed today. Under the previous administration, refugee admissions to the U.S. fell to this historic low of 15,000.

In February of this year, the State Department had recommended in a report to Congress that the U.S. raise the ceiling this year to 62,500 refugees—still short of the average refugee admissions ceiling of 95,000 since 1980 but a significant improvement over the past several years.

This number has a devastating impact on refugees who have undergone the long and rigorous vetting process that takes years to complete successfully. At this moment, tens of thousands of refugees who have been approved for resettlement in the U.S. are left stranded in sub-standard conditions, living on the margins in decrepit refugee camps or in the overcrowded crumbling neighborhoods of urban centers. They are just marking time until they can begin their lives again in a place of refuge and renewal—longstanding assurances in America’s history. There are thousands of families here in the U.S. who have been waiting for their fathers, mothers, children and other family members for years.

We understand that the crisis of unaccompanied children at the border is overwhelming our institutions and that the federal agencies responsible for refugee resettlement suffered drastic cuts in infrastructure under the former administration. As advocates for both populations, we look forward to Congress and the administration providing the critical resources needed to serve both refugees and the surge of unaccompanied children at the border.

USCRI is pleased to note that in this emergency determination, President Biden has allocated more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central America and lifted the former administration’s restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. We also note that President Biden has lifted restrictions that will speed up the resettlement of some refugees who have been vetted and cleared.

Eskinder Negash, President and CEO of USCRI, said today, “We urge President Biden not to yield to the immense political pressure of anti-immigrant voices in the country that have once again begun to dominate our political narrative. These are not new. U.S. history has had many ups and downs in our immigration story. Yet, we must restore our global leadership in providing sanctuary to those fleeing persecution and violence. These are the values that we wish to define us. President Biden has promised the American people a “down payment” on the 125,000 refugee admissions cap. The current cap of 15,000 falls far short of a down payment.

For more information, please contact Annette Sheckler at asheckler@uscrimail.org or 571-289-1731


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