Our America was founded as a refuge for pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. For centuries, other waves of refugees and immigrants followed: Irish, Germans, Russian Jews, Italians. All came seeking a better, safer life for themselves and their families. America gave them a home, and in return they have helped enrich and grow our nation with their culture, values, entrepreneurial spirit, and positive economic impact.
Yesterday, the administration announced plans to cap the number of refugees allowed into the United States at 30,000. Never in the nearly 40 years since the inception of the Federal Refugee Resettlement program have admissions been so low, regardless of administration, even post-9/11. It is important to understand that the 30,000 is a “cap” only, not a quota, so the actual number of refugees admitted will almost certainly be lower. In the current fiscal year, there have only been 25,000 arrivals with a set cap of 45,000.
The administration is MANDATED by US law to consult with Congress about the admissions number. This failed to occur. Refugee resettlement is a strong bipartisan tradition, reflecting American values and protecting those around the world who are most vulnerable. This low number will leave tens of thousands of refugees, half of whom are women and children, in dangerous situations. Moreover, resettlement is a diplomatic tool that can put the US in a positive light globally and protect our interests and citizens internationally.
On a national level, there are many reasons – ethical, moral, and diplomatic – for supporting refugee resettlement. Locally, a decrease in resettlement numbers has an even greater impact.
“Refugees make Buffalo better for us all. From 2000 to 2015, refugees and immigrants reduced Buffalo’s population decline by 40%. They drove 2/3 of the working age population growth in the Great Lakes. Refugees work and buy homes, products, and services,” says Eva Hassett, Executive Director of the International Institute of Buffalo. “We cannot grow an economy without people. We cannot fill jobs vacated by baby boomers without people. Shutting the door on refugees violates American values, is inhumane, and harms the Western New York economy. Call your elected representatives now.”
Please contact your members of Congress today and ask for their support in the resettlement of 75,000 refugees.