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Statement on Proposal to Shut Down U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program

By July 23, 2019No Comments

ZERO. That’s the number of refugees Trump administration officials want to admit to the US in 2020. This unconscionable proposal would shut down refugee resettlement in the United States, endangering refugees, weakening families and communities, and undermining the values on which this country was built.

This is not the first time this administration has attacked refugees. Refugee admissions have been systematically rolled back from 110,000 in 2016 to 30,000 in 2019. Over the 40 years the US government has welcomed and supported refugee resettlement, almost 4 million people have been admitted. That’s an average of 95,000 a year. Zeroing out refugee resettlement is unprecedented and deeply-troubling.

The International Institute and this country cannot and will not turn our backs on refugees. There are currently 40,000 vetted refugees, many of whom have been waiting decades in refugee camps and are ready to begin their new lives in the U.S. These vetted individuals and their families will be abandoned should the administration move forward with this proposed action. 

Refugees and immigrants are a critical part of Buffalo’s past, present and future. Refugees make our region economically stronger and culturally richer.  Employers find good employees. K-12 schools, and colleges and universities, find excellent students. Refugees and immigrants are entrepreneurs, starting a significant number of businesses of all sizes. Neighborhoods are revitalized and vibrant. Buffalo, the city of good neighbors, has enormous capacity to help welcome and help refugees. We are ready, willing and able, and we do not want to stop.

Our refugee friends, neighbors and coworkers make Buffalo better. Kham, an International Institute Case Manager, shared his story of coming to the U.S. with his family in 2008: “I came to America as a refugee from Burma with my family when I was only 14 and I wanted to accomplish so many goals.”Kham, who completed high school and college in Buffalo, is currently pursuing a masters’ degree.  He says, “I came to America with an empty hand but now I have become a light for the city of Buffalo, my community, school, family, and for America.” 

Now is the time to raise your voice. Join the Institute in defending refugees – who remain voiceless in these proceedings – by sending a strong letter, email or phone message to your US Senators and Representatives. Tell them to preserve refugee resettlement by opposing the administration’s proposal and supporting H.R. 2146 and S. 1088 – the GRACE Act – which would preserve the refugee resettlement program by setting an annual refugee admissions floor of 95,000.

Here are some resources to assist you in contacting your elected officials:  

The Zeroing Out proposal will continue to be challenged locally and across the country. We will update you with more opportunities for action and support as the process unfolds. Watch our social media and website for details. In the interim, please share this message with your networks and urge others to voice their support for refugee resettlement.

Together we will continue the fight for the promise enshrined on the Statue of Liberty – to welcome and protect those who yearn for freedom. 

With Fierce Commitment to Our Shared American Values,

Eva Hassett

Executive Director

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