Take Action: Protect Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.

The Biden Administration needs to restore the refugee resettlement program for 2022.

Throughout Scripture, we read stories of refugees finding welcome in new lands. Jesus began his life fleeing persecution as a refugee in Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-18) As United Methodists, we are called “provide wherever possible pastoral care and crisis intervention to refugees.” (Book of Resolutions, 3281)

For almost forty years, the United States’ average annual refugee resettlement goal was admitting 95,000 refugees per year. For the past four painful years, the United States drastically reduced the refugee resettlement program to historic lows of 15,000 refugees, almost gutting the program entirely. This year the Biden administration promised to restore the program-—increasing the 2021 admission goal to 62,500 and the 2022 goal to 125,000.

The Biden Administration announced the decision to keep the refugee admissions goal at 15,000, the all-time low set by the Trump Administration. While the Biden Administration restored regional allocations for resettlement based on vulnerability and reversed the previous administration’s discriminatory resettlement allocations, the administration is backing out of their promise to restore the program. As a result, thousands of refugees are left in harm’s way without opportunity to be resettled in the United States. The White House later issued another statement, committed to re-issue a new, higher admissions goal by May 15th.

While we welcome the administration reconsidering the admissions goal by May, we know that they could increase that goal today. There is no reason for the delay in restoring regional allocations and there is no reason to delay increasing the refugee admissions goal.

A White House official said that the decision to maintain the 15,000 admissions goal resulted was because of concerns over increases in unaccompanied migrant children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. But the process for admitting refugees to the United States is different from the system for asylum seekers.

Refugees are vetted overseas and must be cleared for entry before arriving in the United States, while migrants who arrive at a United States border request asylum upon arrival. The refugee resettlement program does not receive funds if refugees are not being resettled. Since the refugee admissions decision was delayed, thousands of refugees who were approved for entry and ready for travel are now seeing their clearances expire, forcing them to wait additional months or years to be resettled and reunited with loved ones.

It is time for the administration to restore the refugee resettlement program. There are nearly 80 million people worldwide who are displaced from their homes and 26 million refugees forced out of their countries and in search of a safe home.

It is vital that the administration and Members of Congress hear our outrage of the historic-low refugee admissions goal. The back and forth is unacceptable. They must do everything in their power to welcome as many refugees as possible.

Make your voice heard today! Tell Congress to urge the Biden administration to immediately restore our country’s moral leadership in protecting and resettling refugees.