I didn’t even know how to describe my feelings when I saw the news today: The current administration might lower the refugee admissions ceiling to zero. The presidential determination process allows the President and their administration to determine the maximum number of refugees allowed in the country per year. In 2016, the ceiling was 85,000, and the number of refugees resettled was 89,994. In 2018, the ceiling was 45,000, and the number of refugees resettled was 22,491. This year, the ceiling is 30,000, and so far the number of refugees resettled is 21,260.
The drastic proposed cuts down to 10,000, 3,000, or even zero are honestly devastating. For one thing, while refugees are not our fellow Americans, they are our fellow human beings. As such, we have a moral obligation to offer refuge through the resettlement process to as many as we safely, practically can. Beyond that, resettled refugees are vital contributors to their communities. They pay taxes, join the workforce, start businesses, show hospitality, and create an atmosphere of cultural diversity. If we don’t want to admit refugees for humanitarian reasons, then we have plenty of selfish reasons, too.
The administration may cite national security as the rationale for lowering the refugee admissions ceiling, but fears about refugees are unfounded. UNHCR emphatically states that “persons who have committed serious crimes or who might pose a security threat are not eligible for refugee status or resettlement.” The Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (CRSA) in Georgia explains that “refugees undergo a rigorous background, security, and medical screening process involving eight U.S. federal agencies, six security databases, five background checks and three separate in-person interviews, among other things.” According to the New American Economy Research Fund, crime rates are more likely to considerably decline, not increase, in cities with influxes of refugee resettlement. According to the Cato Institute, you’re significantly more likely to be murdered by a native-born terrorist than in a terror attack by a refugee (1 in 28 million vs. 1 in 3.86 billion).
All the data I’ve seen point to one thing in this case: the refugee admissions ceiling cannot be cut down to zero. And all the personal experiences I’ve had with refugees point to one thing as well: the refugee admissions ceiling cannot be cut down to zero. This summer, I’ve met refugees who are resilient, and hospitable, and generous, and so so kind. They are hardworking, motivated self-advocates; loving fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters; and people who absolutely deserve whatever second chance we can give them for a life free from persecution.
I’m asking you to contact your representatives so we can protect the refugee resettlement program and actually increase the refugee admissions ceiling for fiscal year 2020.
It’s simple, but if we’re all in this together, it can make a huge difference for thousands of people around the world. If you’re with me, then just follow these steps:
- Find out who your representatives are at whoaremyrepresentatives.org
- Call them or write them an email or letter. Here’s a script to start off with: Hello, my name is [NAME], and I am a constituent from [CITY/TOWN] in zip code [ZIP CODE]. I’m calling/writing to urge you to protect the U.S. refugee resettlement program and support a refugee admissions ceiling of 95,000 for fiscal year 2020. Refugees make many meaningful contributions to our country through workforce participation, new businesses, taxes, and cultural diversity. Please make your voice heard for a higher refugee admissions ceiling before the presidential determination is set in September.
- Share about the cause with your friends and family and on social media. I’ve attached some graphics you can use if you’d like.
Thank you so much for reading and for speaking up. As always, I have one final ask: let’s choose love over fear, everyone. Everywhere. Every time.