Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and 20 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to cap refugee admissions at 15,000 for Fiscal Year 2021—the lowest ceiling in the history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)—and in urging the administration to increase refugee admissions.

“The United States has a long, bipartisan legacy of providing refugees protection through resettlement—prior to 2016 we resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Secretaries Michael Pompeo and Alex Azar and Under Secretary Chad Wolf. “Yet, during this time of soaring global resettlement needs, this Administration has once again abdicated America’s global leadership role by further reducing the refugee admissions ceiling to its lowest level in the 40-year history of the program. We urge you to substantially increase the refugee admissions target for FY 2021, and end the current suspension of the refugee resettlement program.”

The Senators highlighted the importance of a strong resettlement program, which serves as an essential lifeline for the most vulnerable among the 29.6 million refugees worldwide while also strengthening our communities and economy. In addition, the Senators affirmed the importance of U.S. leadership on resettlement as a powerful tool to garner greater global support for refugees facing persecution.

“American leadership in refugee resettlement is critical in securing greater global support for this important lifeline, which is available to less than one percent of all refugees,” the Senators added. “As this Administration has slashed its annual refugee admissions goals, other leading resettlement countries have followed suit and lowered their resettlement numbers as well.”

Joining Senators Carper, Coons and Ranking Member Menendez in sending the letter were Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

A copy of the letter may be found HERE and below.

Dear Secretaries Pompeo and, Azar, and Under Secretary Wolf:

We write to urgently express our concern regarding the President’s report to Congress on the Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021, which proposes a Presidential Determination of 15,000 refugees, a historical low since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) was established in 1980.

The United States has a long, bipartisan legacy of providing refugees protection through resettlement—prior to 2016 we resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year.

Yet, during this time of soaring global resettlement needs, this Administration has once again abdicated America’s global leadership role by further reducing the refugee admissions ceiling to its lowest level in the 40-year history of the program. We urge you to substantially increase the refugee admissions target for FY 2021, and end the current suspension of the refugee resettlement program. 

 

As we face unprecedented levels of forced displacement around the world, with 29.6 million refugees worldwide, resettlement serves as a critical lifeline for those fleeing persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Survivors of sexual violence and torture, unaccompanied children, families traumatized by the loss of loved ones in war, and other highly vulnerable refugees may need resettlement as the only solution to their plight.  Refugees resettled in the United States contribute greatly to the communities that take them in.  To that end, refugees have generated $63 billion in net revenue alone over a decade for the United States.

In addition to advancing U.S. humanitarian objectives and economic interests, resettlement serves as an important foreign policy tool to support people facing oppression and human rights abuses. The United States’ historical leadership on this issue has enhanced our global influence and demonstrated responsibility-sharing with refugee-hosting countries like Jordan, Uganda, and Bangladesh. Moreover, American leadership in refugee resettlement is critical in securing greater global support for this important lifeline, which is available to less than one percent of all refugees.  As this Administration has slashed its annual refugee admissions goals, other leading resettlement countries have followed suit and lowered their resettlement numbers as well. A robust refugee admissions goal is necessary to ensure those under threat of persecution, like Hong Kongers fleeing political persecution in Hong Kong and refugees fleeing religious persecution in Iran, Iraq, and Myanmar, have a pathway to live freely and without abuse.  For our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, it means standing ready to help when under threat, just as they stood by our troops when we needed their help. 

We urge you to substantially increase the refugee admissions ceiling for FY 2021.  The Administration should immediately end the suspension of the refugee resettlement program in order to ensure the world’s most vulnerable will no longer remain in harm’s way and separated from their families.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,