Voice for Refuge Applauds Biden Administration Determination on Refugee Resettlement Number

February 5, 2021
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Voice for Refuge applauds President Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday on historic first steps in rebuilding the U.S. resettlement program. This important executive action will strengthen the resettlement program’s efficiency and equitable treatment of refugees, and improve access to the program for the most vulnerable refugees. Critically, this executive action rescinded harmful anti-refugee orders from the previous administration, including EO 13815 and EO 13888.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Elizabeth Margolis, memargolis@voiceforrefuge.org

(NEW YORK CITY) – Voice for Refuge applauds President Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday on historic first steps in rebuilding the U.S. resettlement program. This important executive action will strengthen the resettlement program’s efficiency and equitable treatment of refugees, and improve access to the program for the most vulnerable refugees. Critically, this executive action rescinded harmful anti-refugee orders from the previous administration, including EO 13815 and EO 13888. 

Earlier yesterday afternoon, President Biden issued a fact sheet announcing that the administration would rebuild the resettlement program to reach a refugee admissions goal of 125,000 in FY 2022 and committed to raising the FY 2021 refugee admissions goal after appropriate consultation with Congress. The landmark determination is an important step toward rolling back the draconian and inhumane cuts to the program enacted by former President Donald Trump, who reduced this number to a mere 15,000 people for Fiscal Year 2021—the lowest goal since the creation of the Refugee Resettlement Program in 1980. Voice for Refuge now calls on the administration to swiftly consult with Congress, raise the FY 2021 refugee admissions goal, and invest in rebuilding the overseas and domestic infrastructure, welcome refugees and help them integrate and thrive. 

Following is a statement from Erol Kekic, Executive Director for Voice for Refuge, on this important announcement: 

“Finally, the United States is sending a message to millions of people around the world that we remain a symbol of hope for the persecuted. For the last four years, the Trump Administration created racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic policies that wreaked havoc on the refugee resettlement program, separating families and causing irreparable harm for many people who were seeking to come to the United States. 

“Taking immediate steps to restore refugee resettlement and plan for 125,000 arrivals next fiscal year  shows that the United States is committed to improving and protecting the lives of people fleeing violence, persecution, and death. Refugees, both those building new lives in the United States and those seeking to do so, will see hope from today’s actions from the Biden administration. Refugees are facing dire and deadly situations today, and are looking to America to once again lead on this pressing issue. It is only appropriate that the administration rescinded the anti-refugee policies of the previous administration and is looking toward immediate plans to expand adjudications. 

“We are pleased that the administration has prioritized filling senior roles at the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as other important offices that support refugees in the United States. We applaud the Senate for its swift confirmation of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, and urge the Senate to confirm Samantha Power as administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. We also commend the administration’s commitment to inter-agency cooperation to ensure all federal agencies involved in refugee processing are at the table. We call on the administration to swiftly appoint a new assistant secretary for the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration as well as a director for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“We welcome such bold leadership. But we also recognize that compassion toward refugees starts at the local level. We encourage people across the country to take a moment today and to seek out a refugee in their community and ask about their story. Many were forced to leave their homes because of persecution and life-or-death situations. As our neighbors, friends, colleagues and community members, it is important for us to honor where they came from and the stories of how they arrived here. For too long, refugees have been used as a scapegoat, when in fact they are among are the exemplary people that make this country what it is meant to be: A nation like no other, drawing strength from diversity, compassion through understanding, and prosperity by working together.”

About Voice for Refuge: Voice for Refuge is the first 501(c)4 organization created to advance pro-refugee policies at the national, state, and local level and to hold elected leaders accountable to upholding America’s legacy of welcome. Voice for Refuge is educating the public about the benefits of refugee resettlement, advocating for pro-refugee policies in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and increasing civic engagement among refugees through non-partisan voter education. Voice for Refuge will also promote the representation of refugees in government by supporting former refugees and pro-refugee candidates running for office at the national, state, and local level. For more information or to get involved visit voiceforrefuge.org or contact info@voiceforrefuge.org.

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Voice for Refuge Action Fund is a first-of-its-kind 501(c)(4) organization created to stand alongside and elevate refugee voices in the fight for justice and equality.