Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut

Connect

Connecticut Delegation Urges Secretary Pompeo to Reject Refugee Proposals

August 21, 2018
Press Release
According to Multiple Reports, the White House Plans to Cap Refugee Admissions at 15,000 or 25,000 for Fiscal Year 2019 – the lowest since the start of the U.S Refugee Admissions Program in 1980;

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Connecticut delegation wrote to Secretary of State Pompeo in response to reports that the White House is considering proposals that would slash the number of refugees resettled in the United States and shift the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration out of the Department of State. The President must determine the number of refugees that can be admitted into the United States for Fiscal Year 2019 by October 1, 2018. The Department of State has traditionally strongly supported robust refugee resettlement and the delegation wrote to Secretary Pompeo urging him to continue this tradition and advocate for 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019. 

Reports that the Administration is considering caps of 15,000 or 25,000 refugees this year are extremely concerning, as these caps would be the lowest on refugees admissions since the establishment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in 1980. This reduction is even more restrictive than the Fiscal Year 2018 cap of 45,000 refugees, particularly given estimates that the United States will only resettle 20,000 refugees this year. In the midst of the largest refugee crisis in modern history, the United States must not turn its back on the world’s most vulnerable with cruel policies that will restrict refugee resettlement and undermine American diplomatic engagement

“The United States, and Connecticut in particular, has a proud moral tradition and heritage of aiding refugees who need our help when their homelands are in turmoil–a tradition and heritage that we must maintain today. On behalf of Connecticut residents, we urge you to honor the United States’ long tradition of resettling the world’s most vulnerable refugees in communities nationwide by resettling at least 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019 and keeping PRM within the State Department,” the letter states. 

Connecticut serves as a national model for welcoming refugees, with several resettlement agencies throughout the state working to provide essential case management and employment services to refugees. Representatives from these resettlement agencies have expressed deep concerns about further cuts to USRAP and the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow refugee resettlement by implementing the travel ban, reducing refugee vetting interviews overseas, and diverting interview officers.

“Representatives from Connecticut resettlement agencies have shared stories of the courage, strength, and resilience that refugees bring to their communities as well as their contributions to the economic fabric of our state. They have expressed deep concerns about further cuts to USRAP and the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow refugee resettlement by implementing the travel ban, reducing refugee vetting interviews overseas, and diverting interview officers…We are proud of the compassionate Connecticut residents who welcome and support the world’s most vulnerable, and we hope to continue to welcome refugees who have the opportunity to make a home in our great state,” the letter states.  

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo: 

            We write to express our concern regarding reports that the Administration is considering a drastic reduction in the number of refugees resettled in the United States. The proposal to shift the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to another government agency is also alarming.[1] The State Department has traditionally advocated in favor of refugee resettlement as a key component of American foreign policy, but the United States has closed its doors to the world with cruel policies that will restrict the resettlement of vulnerable refugees and undermine American diplomatic engagement. These proposals will signal to the international community that the United States no longer prioritizes protecting refugees displaced by conflict or persecution. The United States, and Connecticut in particular, has a proud moral tradition and heritage of aiding refugees who need our help when their homelands are in turmoil–a tradition and heritage that we must maintain today. On behalf of Connecticut residents, we urge you to honor the United States’ long tradition of resettling the world’s most vulnerable refugees in communities nationwide by resettling at least 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019 and keeping PRM within the State Department.  

            There are tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war, oppression, and persecution throughout the world. News reports suggest the Administration is considering caps of 15,000[2] or 25,000[3] refugees per year, which would represent the lowest cap on refugees admitted to the United States since the establishment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 1980. This reduction is even more restrictive than the Fiscal Year 2018 cap of 45,000 refugees, particularly given estimates that the United States will only resettle 20,000 refugees this year. Many nations hosting substantial numbers of refugees do not have adequate resources to support these populations alone and require American support. Decreasing the number of refugees admitted would betray our humanitarian commitments and damage relations with countries that look to the United States for assistance as a world leader.

            The Administration seeks to justify these proposals using unfounded arguments against refugee resettlement. Administration officials have indicated that resources are being reallocated to process the legal claims of asylum-seekers rather than resettle refugees. Yet these claims are based on exaggerated trends given that border-crossing arrests are at historic lows and the rate of Customs and Border Patrol apprehensions along the southern border in 2017–303,916 arrests–is less than half the 2007 rate of 858,638 arrests.[4] Resettling asylum seekers should not compromise refugee resettlement, but the Administration is attempting to restructure our immigration system to prioritize merit and skill over protection from persecution and family reunification. The Administration additionally overstates the potential threat posed by refugees resettled in the United States. Refugees are already among the most extensively vetted individuals to enter the United States and alleged security concerns are no reason to cap the USRAP. These baseless justifications must be countered with policies that will preserve the United States’ moral integrity and humanitarian tradition.

We also urge you to reject any proposal to relocate PRM and ensure that the State Department continues to have an active role in the refugee resettlement process. Shifting PRM out of the State Department is part of a broader agenda to cripple USRAP and will represent the United States’ withdrawal from the global refugee crisis. For the last 25 years, PRM has carried out critical diplomatic and policy engagement on behalf of refugees, victims of conflict, and stateless people worldwide. Careful coordination with other countries throughout the refugee resettlement process is crucial and requires the foreign policy expertise and skillsets unique to the State Department. The Administration claims that this transfer would produce a more effective and cost-efficient approach to refugee resettlement. But refugee resettlement is an essential component of U.S. foreign policy and PRM must remain within the jurisdiction of the State Department to enhance American moral and diplomatic leadership abroad. 

Our state serves as a national model for refugee resettlement. Connecticut has resettled almost 7,000 refugees since 2005 and there are several resettlement agencies throughout the state that provide essential case management and employment services to refugees. Representatives from Connecticut resettlement agencies have shared stories of the courage, strength, and resilience that refugees bring to their communities as well as their contributions to the economic fabric of our state. They have expressed deep concerns about further cuts to USRAP and the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow refugee resettlement by implementing the travel ban, reducing refugee vetting interviews overseas, and diverting interview officers. The President and CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI)–Claudia Connor–shared that potential caps are “deeply disheartening” given that resettlement is a lifesaving opportunity for refugees enduring humanitarian crises overseas. We are proud of the compassionate Connecticut residents who welcome and support the world’s most vulnerable, and we hope to continue to welcome refugees who have the opportunity to make a home in our great state.

            Though victims of the global conflicts that displaced them, refugees are also resilient survivors who embrace their new lives and contribute to their communities, even after harrowing journeys to the United States. On June 20, 2018–World Refugee Day–you articulated your support for refugees and issued a statement to commemorate “the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution and conflict.”[5] You further committed the United States to continuing “to help the world’s most vulnerable refugees, reflecting the deeply held values of the American people.”[6] As the Administration considers adjustments to worldwide refugee ceiling and regional allocations for the upcoming fiscal year, we urge you to honor this important commitment by protecting USRAP, encouraging the resettlement of at least 75,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019, and advocating for PRM to remain within the State Department’s jurisdiction. We also ask that you consult with Congress and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to resettling the world’s most vulnerable populations as a key tenet of American foreign policy. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to working with you.


                                                                        Sincerely, 

###

Issues: