STATEMENT — LIRS Urges Sufficient Funding to Welcome and Protect Refugees and Migrants in FY 2018 Budget Request

May 23, 2017

Press Contacts:

Miji Bell
mbell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

Michelle Blundell
mblundell@mrss.com; 202-478-6176

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Donald Trump released his Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, outlining his Administration’s priorities for the year ahead. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has significant concerns about the deep cuts found throughout this budget, especially those that would impact vulnerable refugee and migrant populations. We call on Congress to reject arbitrary cuts and instead allocate funding that aligns with our shared American values.

“With global displacement at an all-time high and children and families at our border seeking access to lawful protection, we should not accept resettling only 50,000 refugees,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO. “This is not a time for our leaders to neglect America’s longstanding commitment to welcoming and protecting the world’s most vulnerable.”

LIRS has proudly worked with our Lutheran social ministry partners and other agencies spread throughout the country for over 75 years. These proposed cuts put at risk all of that work and will result in refugees, including those that have served our military, to be stranded abroad. The lack of sufficient funding could also expose children to prolonged waits in border station holding rooms—just as we saw in 2014—resulting in higher incidents of child trafficking due to limited screening protections for children post-release, and risk redirecting resources away from refugee resettlement due to the lack of emergency contingency funds.

“LIRS urges Congress to remain consistent with our American tradition of welcome, and reject these needless cuts,” says Hartke. “Congress should allocate funding consistent with our values.”

If enacted, President Trump’s budget would have devastating consequences for programs that support refugee resettlement, and provide migrants and asylum-seekers – including children and families – with access to legally mandated services and protection.

Instead of the devastating cuts found in today’s proposed budget, LIRS urges the White House and Congress to:

  • Resettle at least 75,000 refugees in FY 2018;
  • Fund the Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee and Entrants Assistance (REA) account at $1.688 billion to ensure that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) can effectively serve unaccompanied children, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Special Immigrant Visa holders, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and further foster refugee integration;
  • Provide $3.604 billion in funding for the Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) Account which assists displaced refugees overseas, supports refugee admissions, and funds lifesaving services in humanitarian emergencies;
  • Appropriate $3.8 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster assistance work;
  • Continue funding the Department of State’s Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account at $50 million to ensure that the U.S. can continue to fund its humanitarian priorities. The President’s budget request seeks to eliminate the integral ERMA account that would devastate the United States ability to respond to humanitarian and displacement emergencies that could result in further regional instability;

As an organization founded on principles of welcome, LIRS supports a budget that ensures justice and protection for all migrants and refugees. Now, more than ever, we must allocate funding to programs that align with our American values of freedom, compassion, and opportunity. Now that the President has issued his funding priorities, we look to Congress to do what is right and stand with us to protect those in need.

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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.