September 30, 2015 STATEMENT — LIRS Responds to Official Presidential Determination for Refugee Arrivals in Fiscal Year 2016

Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, President Obama issued the Presidential Determination for Fiscal Year 2016, announcing the official increase of refugee admissions from 70,000 in Fiscal Year 2015 to 85,000 beginning October 1, 2015. Given the overwhelming worldwide need for safe havens for refugees, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) views this as an incremental step towards compassion and welcome, though we cannot conceal our disappointment. The United States has the capacity and the tradition of doing far more to protect our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition of advocates for refugees of which LIRS is a member, has urged the Administration to take a leadership role in the global refugee crisis by resettling 200,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016, including 100,000 Syrians. Clearly, the small fraction of refugees covered by yesterday’s Presidential Determination is woefully inadequate when over 4 million Syrians alone are currently seeking refuge. We continue to call on the Administration to pursue a variety of options, including its power under section 207(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to admit additional refugees during emergencies.

Our congregations and communities stand ready to welcome vulnerable refugees, yet our spirit of generosity has been hindered by political barriers. “People of faith, Lutheran congregations and concerned members of the American public have been lighting up our phone lines—volunteering their time and resources to welcome Syrian refugees and refugees from other crises into their communities,” explained Terry Abeles, LIRS Director for Refugee Resettlement.