STATEMENT – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Statement regarding the 50K refugee admissions cap

For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2017

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Miji Bell
mbell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841
Michelle Blundell
mblundell@mrss.com; 202-478-6176

BALTIMORE, MD – Today, U.S. refugee admissions reached the historically and arbitrarily low cap of 50,000 persons resettled for Fiscal Year 2017, as set forth in President Donald Trump’s March 6, 2017 executive order. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is deeply disheartened by this executive order partially going into effect, and its call to drastically limit the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. and halt resettlement for 120 days.

“The pause on resettlement and restrictions on the number of persons who can enter our country as refugees will have an immediate effect on our ability to conduct the lifesaving work of providing safety and protection,” says Kay Bellor, LIRS Vice President for Programs.

With over 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 22.5 million refugees – over half of whom are children – LIRS believes that now is not the time to pause and reduce this lifesaving program. Putting a cap on the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. will mean that vulnerable refugees, including those with severe medical needs, torture survivors, unaccompanied refugee children, and persecuted religious minorities will continue to be in harm’s way. The Obama Administration had previously set the goal of 110,000 refugees to be admitted this fiscal year, but the Trump Administration has called for it to be lowered to 50,000 this fiscal year and indicated that will be the goal for next year – the lowest goal for refugee admissions since the Refugee Act of 1980 created the modern U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Faced with such overwhelming need, LIRS and other resettlement organizations are advocating that the cap be increased to at least 75,000 refugees for this fiscal year and next.

“We can’t forget that this is not about a number,” says Bellor. “This is about saving lives.”

The Supreme Court’s June order narrowed the scope of earlier lower court injunctions, and will mean that individuals for whom the U.S. has historically offered protection through the USRAP will be denied that protection – at least for now – despite their having been appropriately and thoroughly vetted by top security and intelligence agencies.

Citing security risks, the executive order has already blocked persons from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., caused cancellations of refugees who had already begun preparing to travel, and impeded LIRS and our partner’s ability to conduct this life-saving work. And yet, national security experts have repeatedly noted that refugees are the single most vetted population to enter the U.S., and the resettlement program actually advances our national security interests by reinforcing stability and liberty around the world.

Historically, the U.S. has been the global leader in offering protection to refugees. At this urgent moment of such disproportionate global displacement, now is not the time to be turning our backs on the most vulnerable.

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Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.