Refugee Congress Statement on Biden’s Refugee Resettlement Executive Order
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 4, 2021
WASHINGTON–Refugee Congress applauds President Biden’s executive order to restore and enhance the refugee resettlement program and his announcement of plans to set the refugee admissions goal at 125,000, which he has indicated would happen in Fiscal Year 2022 after consultations with Congress in the fall.
“Refugee Congress applauds the current administration for taking strides towards restoring the soul of our nation,” said Lourena Gboeah, Chair of the Refugee Congress Board of Directors. “As a former refugee and someone who has helped to resettle families in Delaware, I couldn’t be prouder to see the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program operating at capacity again. I’ve witnessed and heard of disappointments from families yearning for safety, and from agencies and communities waiting to welcome with open arms. I am also proud to have worked alongside countless partners who have been relentless in our strive towards restoration. Today, we can all celebrate in solidarity.”
Since inauguration, President Biden has issued executive orders that have reversed some of the most destructive of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies. The Trump Administration sought to dismantle and destroy the refugee resettlement program by setting a historical low record admission goal of just 15,000 refugees for the 2020 Fiscal Year. The harmful and discriminatory policies set by the Trump administration toward the refugee resettlement and asylum systems have separated families, prevented those fleeing violence and persecution from accessing safety, and enforced dangerous sentiments of xenophobia in our nation.
In addition to the commitment to restore the refugee resettlement program, today’s executive order includes a review of the current Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program and consideration of a possible SIV program for individuals who serve the U.S. in other areas. It also calls for a report on climate change and its impact on migration.
“It gives us hope to see this administration declare its intent not only to restore and enhance refugee resettlement and access to asylum but also to restore the spirit of welcome that has long been a signature of the U.S.,” said Nili Sarit Yossinger, National Director of Refugee Congress. “Our communities are made stronger and more successful because of the diversity, culture, talents, passion and generosity of refugees and asylees. This first step is a welcome one, and long overdue.”
As an organization built and led by former refugees, asylees and other vulnerable migrants, we know firsthand the ways that refugees strengthen our communities. Refugees make invaluable contributions to our nation as entrepreneurs and business owners; as chefs, delivery drivers, teachers, religious leaders, journalists, service workers, farmers and volunteers; and as community members, neighbors and friends. During this time of crisis, refugees have also been serving as doctors, nurses and other health providers on the frontlines against COVID-19.
The Biden Administration’s swift effort to restore our nation’s bipartisan welcoming spirit and respect the humanity of immigrants and refugees is only the beginning of the work needed to build back our resettlement programs and amplify the needs and voices of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Refugee Congress urges the Biden Administration to continue the work in restoring welcome for all refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants, and we hope there will be an increase in refugee resettlement admissions for Fiscal Year 2021. We must continue to uphold our nation’s global role as humanitarian leaders and shape global policies in moving towards protecting refugees, asylees and other vulnerable migrants.
Refugee Congress is a nonpartisan 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.
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