Blog & Stories / 03.24.21

PRESS RELEASE: More than 200 local, state, and national organizations urge President Biden to sign a revised refugee admissions goal

Washington, DC — Over five weeks ago, President Biden issued an Emergency Report to Congress declaring that developing “grave humanitarian concerns” necessitated raising the refugee admissions goal to 62,500 this fiscal year, in addition to restoring resettlement based on vulnerability and re-establishing regional allocations. And yet despite the urgency of the need, President Biden has yet to sign the proposed revised refugee admissions goal. This delay has had devastating impacts on the lives of refugees who remain overseas in precarious situations, as well as for the family members already in the United States who have been waiting years for reunification.

The President’s delay in signing the revised refugee admissions goal has resulted in hundreds of  refugees having their flights to the US cancelled in March alone – including an indefinite suspension for refugees who do not fit into the previous administration’s overly restrictive and discriminatory categories of refugee eligibility. Today, Refugee Council USA and 208 local, state, and national organizations sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to follow through on his promise to refugees around the world.

John Slocum, Interim Executive Director for RCUSA, said “each of the signatories here represent communities and networks of support declaring boldly that we are ready to welcome refugees. It is critical that the President take the final step in issuing a new admissions goal. Without it, thousands of refugees are left waiting to find safety and security. The global circumstances that prompted President Biden to begin the process of welcoming more refugees have not eased. It is time for the US to fulfill its promise of welcome and opportunity.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, said “We pray that, by the time Passover begins this Saturday night, when we commemorate the flight of the Hebrews from persecution under Pharaoh to freedom, President Biden will have finally fulfilled his promise to end the Trump Administration’s discriminatory restrictions which have prevented modern day refugees from completing their legal and safe flight to reach our promised land.”

“After the past four years, restoring and rebuilding the refugee resettlement program must be a priority for this administration. The impacts of delaying to do so can not be overstated; over 700 flights for refugees have already been canceled, leaving thousands of vulnerable men, women, and children to languish,” said Erol Kekic, Senior Vice President for the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service. “The delay stings even more as this is all unnecessary, communities are ready, willing and able to welcome refugees as neighbors. President Biden has already told Congress this is a must, it’s time for him to carry through and begin welcoming these people home.”

“We applaud Secretary of State Antony Blinken placing human rights as a top priority of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy,” said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, CEO and President of Boat People SOS. “Promptly resettling victims of egregious human rights violations who have been recognized as refugees by the United Nations should be an integral part of that policy.”

The administration’s delay in signing a new Presidential Determination is deeply concerning, and it is having a profound negative impact on refugees who have been waiting to arrive, be reunited with their families, and rebuild their lives in the US,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, National Director of Refugee Congress. “President Biden made a promise to “build back better” and it is imperative for that to happen without any further delay. We stand ready and able to welcome refugees home today.”

“After years of uncertainty and living in dire circumstances, refugees approved for resettlement continue to wait with no sense of when they will be able to travel to the US,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, JRS/USA. “JRS/USA urges President Biden to sign an Executive Action formalizing the new FY21 Presidential Determination as soon as possible so that refugees can begin to rebuild their lives and contribute to our communities.”

“We welcomed President Biden’s commitment to raise the annual refugee admissions ceiling to a level that better reflects the scale of global need, and now call on him to urgently sign the revised refugee admissions goal,” said Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America. “Lives are at stake. Each day that he fails to act is another missed opportunity to re-open the ‘Golden Door’ that the last administration slammed on some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

VIEW LETTER

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

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