Refugee Congress Denounces the Administration’s Proposal to Resettle the Lowest Number of Refugees in U.S. History


WASHINGTONRefugee Congress strongly denounces the Trump Administration’s proposal to resettle just 15,000 refugees this year — the lowest refugee admissions goal in U.S. history.

Since taking office, the Trump Administration has sought to dismantle and destroy the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Last year, the Administration did not set a refugee admissions goal until November and then slashed refugee resettlement numbers to 18,000, despite a historic norm of 95,000.

These actions reveal the Administration’s disdain for tradition and unwillingness to provide safe haven for refugees. The Administration is leaving refugees in uncertain and unsafe conditions and keeping families apart. Resettled refugees in the U.S. who are awaiting family reunification, resettlement agencies dedicated to welcoming refugees, and businesses that rely on refugees and immigrants to fill critical positions are left in the lurch.

The Administration also failed to meaningfully consult with Congress about refugee resettlement numbers before the start of the fiscal year, as required by law, which means that refugee resettlement will be postponed until a formal directive can be put in place.

Refugee Congress calls on the President to conduct meaningful consultations immediately and set a refugee admissions goal of at least 95,000. Communities and individuals have demonstrated widespread bipartisan support for welcoming refugees again and again. Communities know the value of refugees — as doctors, nurses and other health providers serving on the frontlines against COVID-19; as entrepreneurs and business owners; as chefs, delivery drivers, teachers, religious leaders and service workers; and as community members, neighbors and friends. 

We must reverse the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee trajectory this Administration has championed and maintain this nation’s commitment to providing refuge and protection to those fleeing violence and persecution.

Refugee Congress calls upon individuals and communities to show the best of what we can be. We call on all to contact the Trump Administration to express outrage and urge elected officials to demand that the Administration consult with Congress and set the refugee admissions goal of 95,000 immediately.

Lourena Gboeah, Refugee Congress Board of Directors Chair and Delegate for Delaware, Resettled Refugee from Liberia:

“We are facing the largest refugee crisis in history. It is more critical than ever for the Administration to set the refugee admissions goal at the historic norm and welcome refugees. We need to maintain our commitment to providing safe haven to refugees fleeing conflict, persecution and violence. Delays and reduced admissions numbers mean real impacts on the lives and wellbeing of refugees and their families. We are ready to welcome refugees and call on the Trump Administration to make it possible to do so.”

Nili Sarit Yossinger, National Director for Refugee Congress:

“After three years of systematically dismantling the refugee resettlement program, it is outrageous yet unsurprising that the Trump Administration would set such a shamefully low Presidential Determination for the coming year, and in doing so completely eschew its moral responsibility to lead the world by example in welcoming refugees.

Refugees have always enjoyed bipartisan support, and all credible evidence points to the invaluable cultural and economic contributions that refugees have made and continue to make to our communities – especially during the COVID-19 crisis, serving on the frontlines to protect our communities. As the only organization that is built and led by refugees, this decision is deeply personal for all of us at Refugee Congress and is a complete dismissal of all that we have given to this country we call home. We call upon our neighbors, friends, co-workers and elected officials of all affiliations to take action immediately and implore this Administration to set a Presidential Determination that is in good faith, and in line with our historic norm of at least 95,000.”

Jessi Calzado-Esponda, Refugee Congress Delegate for the District of Columbia, Resettled Refugee from Cuba:

“I ask that you continue to uphold the American values that this country has embraced for generations of refugees. And continue to be a beacon of hope that welcomes refugees, that invests in them through education and support, and in doing so, allows refugees like me to achieve, succeed and give back to America.”

Clara Hart, Refugee Congress Delegate for South Dakota, Resettled Refugee from Mozambique:

“Refugees are what makes this country vital! Refugees help drive the economy and make things better for all who live here. Welcoming refugees is an investment in the future because of the many contributions they and their children and grandchildren will make to their new country. Collectively, America is known as a beacon of hope. We refugees are coming here seeking a second chance in life, and we will make the most of the opportunity we are given to build new lives and contribute to our new communities.”

Linda Kana, Refugee Congress Delegate for Kentucky, Resettled Refugee from Congo:

“When you welcome a refugee or immigrant, you certainly do not know what they will bring to the table, but when you look closely, refugees and immigrants turn out to be the pride of the nation that welcomed them. Diversity means more brilliant ideas, a plus to the nation, and access to more knowledge. Every refugee and immigrant brings something new with them and that’s an advantage to their new country.”

Dr. Heval Kelli, Refugee Congress Delegate for Georgia, Resettled Refugee from Syria:

“America accepted my family when everyone else rejected us. America welcomed a teenage Kurdish refugee and gave him a place to call home. America believed in a dishwasher who did not speak any English. Today that dishwasher is a heart doctor serving the same communities that welcomed him 20 years ago.”

Suraj Budathoki, Refugee Congress Delegate for New Hampshire, Resettled Refugee from Bhutan:

“I came here as a refugee twelve years ago. Now, I am a college graduate. My wife and I are small business owners and employ more than a dozen people. Bringing in and supporting refugees, to me, is equal to serving god. Serving humanity is a way of serving god.”

“I often hear people say that refugees are resettled for a better life. For me personally, that’s not the case. For most refugees, it’s not to make their life better. It’s to save their lives from persecution, torture, imprisonment and horror. When refugees are resettled, I call it being ‘born again.’ We are given the opportunity to dream again as any human being, to hope to see the bright side of humanity and not just torment.

So, do you want children, women, disabled people and elders to live in a war zone, under oppressive regimes for their whole lives, in hopeless refugee camps until they die? Do you want children to play and grow up with unexploded bombs and machine guns instead of toys? What would you do if you were in their place? As many spiritual books and many moral teachers have said, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.’”

Ally Ntumba, Refugee Congress Delegate for Indiana, Resettled Refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo:

“The Administration must set a refugee admissions goal of 95,000 immediately. We welcome refugees.”

Dauda Sesay, Refugee Congress Board of Directors Vice Chair and Delegate for Louisiana, Resettled Refugee from Sierra Leone:

“As with many refugees, I would have preferred to remain in my country. However, due to the endless fear of persecution and the vicious war that took away my loved ones, I had no other choice but to flee.

I have been reflecting on my painful journey as the Trump Administration has reduced the refugee admissions level to just 18,000 last year, the lowest in U.S. history, and now has announced an even lower level. The program’s very survival is at great risk. As someone who understands the struggles of refugees firsthand, I am disheartened to see that my beloved new home is denying that opportunity to others facing dangerous situations at a time we are facing the worst humanitarian crisis in history.”

Nga Vương-Sandoval, Refugee Congress Delegate for Colorado:

“The strength adn tradition to welcome our most vulnerable, persecuted and traumatized communites have historically been teh hallmark of the U.S. Denying refuge to those seeking safety contradicts our humanity and obligathtion to welcome those in crisis.

As a refugee from Việt Nam, I’ve experienced the horrors of fleeing extraordinary circumstances that we never chose. We have a moral and humanitarian obligation to continuing allowing entry to our refugee neighbors during this international humanitarian crisis.”

The following undersigned:

Lourena Gboeah, Board Chair and Delegate (Delaware)

Dauda Sesay, Board Vice Chair and Delegate (Louisiana)

Biar Atem, Board Treasurer and Delegate (Nevada)

Carmen G. Kcomt, Board Secretary and Delegate (California)

Drocella Mugorewera, Board Member and Delegate (Tennessee)

Fatima Dirie, Board Member and Delegate (Utah)

Karna B Gurung, Board Member and Delegate (Nebraska)

Valerie Bahige, Board Member and Delegate (Wyoming)

Alexis Niyonkuru, Delegate (Texas)

Ally Ntumba, Delegate (Indiana)

Amer Swedeh, Delegate (Illinois)

Basma Alawee, Delegate (Florida)

Clara Hart, Delegate (South Dakota)

Dr. Heval Kelli, Delegate (Georgia)

Ekhlas Ismail Ahmed, Delegate (Maine)

Esmail Dezhbod, Delegate (Connecticut)

Farjam Behnam, Delegate (Virginia)

Fartun Weli, Delegate (Minnesota)

George Tarr, Delegate (New York)

Habiyambere Sunzu Steve, Delegate (Alabama)

Isabel Kayembe, Delegate (Rhode Island)

Jean Claude Safari Bahanuzi, Delegate (Illinois)

Jessi Calzado Esponda, Delegate (District of Columbia)

Jihan Daman, Delegate (Michigan)

Joseph Sackor, Delegate (Pennsylvania)

Julia Ostropolsky, Delegate (Missouri)

Kalisa Ndikumbwimana, Delegate (North Dakota)

Kamal Dhimal, Delegate (North Carolina)

Linda Kana, Delegate (Kentucky)

Majidi Shabani, Delegate (Arkansas)

Martin Ndayisenga, Delegate (New Mexico)

Maryam Naziri, Delegate (New Jersey)

Mursal Naleye, Delegate (Kansas)

Natasa Torbica, Delegate (Wisconsin)

Nejra Sumic, Delegate (Arizona)

Nga Vuong-Sandoval, Delegate (Colorado)

Norah Bagirinka, Delegate (Ohio)

Suraj Budathoki, Delegate (New Hampshire)

Tecle Gebremicheal, Delegate (Idaho)

Teklit Michael, Delegate (Maryland)

Valdir Solera Junior, Delegate (Hawaii)

Zeljka Krvavica, Delegate (Iowa)


Refugee Congress is a nonpartisan national advocacy organization built and led by former refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants to promote the well-being, integration and dignity of all vulnerable migrants. With delegates across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we use our voices and experiences to inform and influence decision-makers on critical domestic and international issues that affect our communities.