US Bishops Respond to Announcement of Lowest Refugee Designation in the History of U.S. Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON– Wednesday night, the State Department issued its report to Congress recommending 15,000 refugees be allowed to be admitted to the United States for 2021. This report is the first step towards issuance of the Presidential Determination on refugees, which by law mandates Congressional consultation and is required to be issued by September 30. The historical average of previous annual refugee admissions is 95,000. During the Trump Administration, there has been a stark decrease in refugee admissions including last year’s historical low of 18,000 refugees. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

We continue to be disappointed by the Trump Administration’s diminishment of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, as these decisions have a tangible impact on those fleeing religious persecution and other vulnerable families in need of refuge. While refugees will thankfully be allowed to seek refuge here in the United States in 2021, the low number of admissions, given the global need and the capacity and wealth of the United States, is heartbreaking. We exhort Congress to seriously examine the Administration’s proposal and strongly encourage the President to increase the eventual presidential determination significantly.

“Welcoming refugees is an act of love and hope. By helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.

“Five years ago, on his apostolic visit to the U.S., our Holy Father, Pope Francis addressed Congress noting: ‘Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” … The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.’ In the same spirit, we urge the Administration to continue to offer welcome to refugees to our country. We can and must lead by example in the defense of all human life, including those fleeing persecution.”

To learn more about refugees and refugee resettlement, please visit Justice for Immigrants.

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