Support Refugee Resettlement Action Alert Background Information
Synod recommended, in 2010, that the CRCNA’s members “speak out against, and seek to reform, laws and practices concerning the treatment of immigrants that appear to be unduly harsh or unjust.”
According to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are 65.6 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Of this number, nearly 22.5 million are considered refugees, defined by UNHCR as people “who [have] been forced to flee [their] country because of persecution, war, or violence.”
The United States has long welcomed refugees. The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 was the first refugee legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, admitting displaced Europeans following World War II; the bill oversaw an additional 400,000 refugees settling in the U.S. after the earlier admission of over 250,000 European refugees. Since then, the U.S. has consistently shown global leadership in refugee resettlement, opening its doors to refugees from Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Poland, Syria, Bhutan, and Sudan among other regions and nations. In 1980, Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the existing Federal Refugee Resettlement Program. Under this program, the U.S. government partners with nine national refugee resettlement agencies to help newly arrived refugees settle in their new communities.
Each year, the U.S. president consults with Congress and federal agencies to designate priority nationalities and processing for the upcoming year’s refugee resettlement. As part of this decision, the president sets yearly resettlement goals and ceilings on the number of refugees admitted from each region of the world. Since 1980, the average annual refugee admissions goal has exceeded 95,000. Last year, the U.S. administration announced the refugee resettlement goal for fiscal year 2018 as 45,000—a historic low.
Latest reports indicate that, at the current rate, the U.S. will resettle less than half of the goal of 45,000 refugees this fiscal year. A combination of new administrative obstacles, executive orders and new policies that prevent certain refugees from being considered, a chronic lack of staffing, and a focus on enhancing already-robust security measures has systematically crippled resettlement efforts. The real and tangible effects of this year’s hyper-low admissions are already evident as the State Department closes refugee resettlement offices due to the “low numbers of refugees” and refugees watch their background checks—which take approximately two years to complete—expire.