STATEMENT — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service commends plan to raise the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., calls on other countries to follow suit

September 16, 2016

Press Contacts:
Miji Bell; 410-230-2841
Michelle Blundell; 202-478-6176

WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is grateful that the Obama Administration has committed to increase the number of refugees the United States will accept to at least 110,000 in Fiscal Year 2017. This decision will both save lives and strengthen our nation.

The announcement comes at a significant time for the global refugee crisis: right on the heels of the Administration’s announcement of reaching its FY2016 goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees ahead of schedule, and just a few days ahead of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants and President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York City next week.

While LIRS is disappointed that the Administration did not embrace the call for the U.S. to resettle 200,000 refugees in the new fiscal year, the decision to markedly increase the number reflects our values as Americans and is shared by many in the faith community. The 25,000 increase from the current fiscal year means more refugees’ futures have been redirected from one of pain and despair to one of safety and hope.

“With more than 21 million refugees in the world today, U.S. resettlement is just one solution to address the global crisis we face. We hope that this announcement will send a strong message to countries around the world to do their part and increase the number of refugees they accept in 2017. Globally, we need to share the responsibility of protecting refugees and offering them the opportunity to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new homeland,” said Linda Hartke, president and CEO of LIRS.

LIRS hopes that the next U.S. President will continue to demonstrate compassion for refugees, by agreeing to resettle at least 200,000 in FY18. What is often overlooked is the fact that our country’s investment in refugees benefits U.S. communities as refugees become taxpayers, working professionals, and vibrant contributors to their communities.

“America has an important choice to make, and the opportunity to live out the values we hold dear,” says Hartke. “One of the best things we can do for our economy, for our national security, and to inspire the rest of the world to protect the vulnerable, is to welcome refugees with a glad heart.”


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.