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USCRI Statement on President Biden’s Executive Orders on Refugee Resettlement and Immigration

By USCRI February 5, 2021

by Eskinder Negash

USCRI is greatly encouraged by newly elected President Joseph Biden’s actions to restore the country’s robust refugee resettlement program and other paths to immigration . The President has pledged to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling from its historic low of 15,000 to 125,000 beginning next fiscal year. He has signed Executive Orders this week that: 1) ended the Remain in Mexico Program; 2) created a task force to reunite migrant families separated at the border; 3) committed to provide support to Central American countries to address root causes of migration; and 4) established a task force on New Americans to review guidelines and policies of immigration to promote “inclusion and integration.”

The U.S. refugee resettlement program, despite the growing crisis worldwide, has been severely diminished in the past four years. Historically, the U.S. has resettled more refugees annually than all other countries combined. However, an anti-immigrant and refugee narratives dominated by the political and election discourse followed by harsh policies that chipped away at paths to legal immigration–including refugee resettlement. As a result, refugees around the world who undertook the lengthy and arduous vetting process were left languishing in refugee camps and marginalized in urban areas in a constant state of limbo.

In addition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suffered massive staffing cuts—nearly 70% of its workforce– under the last administration, drastically reducing the agency’s capacity to process the backlog of asylees and resettlement cases.

We recognize that these are challenging times for the new administration and our country. The COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s staggering loss of jobs and small businesses, and the impact of the pandemic on our schools and public health institutions require significant financial intervention from the government. The backlog must be cleared; a new Presidential Determination will be made after consultation with Congress for FY 2022; and resettlement agencies that were shut down by decreased funding must be re-built.

What is important to recognize at this moment is America’s re-commitment to open its doors to the persecuted and oppressed globally. The U.S. has been a global leader in promoting human rights and humanitarianism worldwide. USCRI stands ready to do its part in serving the refugee community—beginning with a welcome at the airport that takes them to their new homes and new lives in communities across the country. As an advocate, we will continue to use our voice to promote policies and services that help refugees become vital members of their communities.

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For over one hundred years, USCRI has been providing services and advocating for the rights of refugees and immigrants worldwide.


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