Blog & Stories / 04.12.21

Leaders of Nine US Refugee Resettlement Agencies Appeal to President Biden to Raise Refugee Admissions Cap from Trump-era Historic Lows

Washington, DC — Nearly two months have passed since President Biden released his emergency report to Congress, declaring the pressing need to raise the refugee admissions goal for the remainder of the year, and to restore regional admissions categories—finally ending Trump’s discriminatory influence over US refugee resettlement. And yet, an emergency presidential determination to make these much needed changes remains on the President’s desk unsigned with no explanation for the cause of the delay. 

On Friday, the executives of the nine national resettlement agencies sent a letter to President Biden urging him to sign the presidential determination, stating that his failure to do so “undermines [his] declared purpose, expressed as a candidate, as president-elect, and as president of reversing the refugee policies of the former administration and rebuilding the program.”

John Slocum, Interim Executive Director of RCUSA, said “we have applauded each of the President’s early declarations and executive orders to address the harms done to the United States’ systems of humanitarian protections. And now we call for accountability in fulfilling his promises. We know the need is great, and we can only make progress with the revised admissions goal and categories.” 

Erol Kekic, Senior Vice President for the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service added, “During his campaign, following the election, and after his inauguration, President Biden made vocal commitments to prioritize refugees in his White House. Some of the damaging policies of the last four years he has started to undo, but his administration’s success won’t be judged solely on how it addresses the mistakes of the past, but by how it builds for the future. The longer he delays, the longer thousands of men, women, and children will be left in harm’s way. If the president truly wants to return the United States to its former role as a humanitarian leader, he can’t wait, he must begin now.”

Tsehaye Teferra, President and CEO of the Ethiopian Community Development Council shared, “Delaying the Emergency Fiscal Year 2021 Presidential Determination (PD) on Refugee Admissions has left vulnerable refugees in uncertainty and disrupted local community efforts to welcome newcomers. We urge President Biden to sign the PD without further delay so that we can provide safety and a future to those most in need.”

William Canny, Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops added, “It is imperative that we welcome our brothers and sisters, who are in need around the world, here in the United States. We must act now to ensure that we are doing our part to help desperate refugees in need.”

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RCUSA is a diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, and the promotion of dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome. Individual RCUSA members do not all address all refugee-related issues, nor do all individual members approach common refugee-related issues identically.

Media Contact: Sarah Seniuk, sseniuk@rcusa.org