Reps Omar, Jayapal, Schakowsky Lead Letter to President Biden to Increase the Refugee Admissions Target

April 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) led more than two dozen Members of Congress in a letter to President Biden urging him to formalize the Presidential Determination to increase the refugee admissions target for this fiscal year, following reports that the United States is on pace to set the record for the lowest refugee resettlement in recent history. The letter also calls for the removal of the discriminatory restrictions on the program that was inherited from the previous administration.

“We have all been deeply distressed at the stories of hundreds of refugees who had been cleared for resettlement having their flights cancelled at the last minute, in some cases having already left their residences and sold their belongings,” the Members wrote. “We must keep our promises to people who have fled unthinkably brutal conditions in their home countries and live up to our ambition to provide them a safe haven to re-start their lives.”

“There is immense and growing urgency on this issue, for the many who have already been approved for resettlement, and for the unimaginable number of people who continue to hold out hope that they can one day rebuild their lives destroyed by climate, conflict, and repression,” they continued. “There are more displaced people today than at any time in human history, and the growing crises of forced displacement in Ethiopia and the Central African Republic will only add to the millions of Rohingya, Syrians, Venezuelans, Eritreans, Somalis, and many others who have their lives indefinitely on hold. We have it within our power to help alleviate this suffering, to reduce the burdens on overstretched countries in the Global South, and to be a refuge for families who have been forced into unthinkable conditions through no fault of their own.”

The letter was signed by Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Julia Brownley, Cori Bush, André Carson, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke,  Rosa L. DeLauro, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Sylvia R. Garcia, Raúl M. Grijalva, Brian Higgins, Sara Jacobs, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, James P. McGovern, Seth Moulton, Grace Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, David E. Price, Bobby L. Rush, Linda T. Sánchez, Adam Smith, Mark Takano, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Ritchie Torres, Nydia M. Velázquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Jennifer Wexton.

You can view the full letter below and here.

Dear President Biden,

We are writing to express the urgent need for your Administration to immediately sign an Emergency Presidential Determination to formalize the proposed revised FY21 refugee admissions goal of 62,500, restore regional allocations, and resume resettlement based on vulnerability. Having fought for four years against the Trump Administration’s full-scale assault on refugee resettlement in the United States, we were relieved to see you commit to increasing our refugee resettlement numbers so early in your Administration. But until the Emergency Presidential Determination is finalized, our refugee policy remains unacceptably draconian and discriminatory.

We have all been deeply distressed at the stories of hundreds of refugees who had been cleared for resettlement having their flights cancelled at the last minute, in some cases having already left their residences and sold their belongings.[1]We must keep our promises to people who have fled unthinkably brutal conditions in their home countries and live up to our ambition to provide them a safe haven to re-start their lives.

Further, finalizing the Emergency Presidential Determination is a critical step to raise the cap and restore geographic allocations to ensure diversity among admitted refugees. The prior administration’s highly restrictive admission categories and bans on the resettlement of refugees from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen have a strong impact on the diversity of refugees, and disproportionately exclude Muslim refugees and those fleeing some of the world’s worst crises in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Without this immediate action, the International Rescue Committee now reports that your Administration is currently on track to admit fewer refugees than any other President in U.S. history.[2] We know that this is not your intention, and not in accordance with your commitments as President or throughout your career in public service. Until you finalize your proposed changes to the program, however, it remains a fact.

There is immense and growing urgency on this issue, for the many who have already been approved for resettlement, and for the unimaginable number of people who continue to hold out hope that they can one day rebuild their lives destroyed by climate, conflict, and repression. There are more displaced people today than at any time in human history, and the growing crises of forced displacement in Ethiopia and the Central African Republic will only add to the millions of Rohingya, Syrians, Venezuelans, Eritreans, Somalis, and many others who have their lives indefinitely on hold. We have it within our power to help alleviate this suffering, to reduce the burdens on overstretched countries in the Global South, and to be a refuge for families who have been forced into unthinkable conditions through no fault of their own.

We stress again the incredible urgency of finalizing the Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for FY2021 immediately. Lives depend on it.

 

Sincerely,

Ilhan Omar                              Pramila Jayapal                      Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress              Member of Congress              Member of Congress

 

Additional signers

Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán

Representative Karen Bass

Representative Donald S. Beyer Jr.

Representative Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D.

Representative Julia Brownley

Representative Cori Bush

Representative André Carson

Representative Judy Chu

Representative David N. Cicilline

Representative Yvette D. Clarke

Representative Mark DeSaulnier

Representative Debbie Dingell

Representative Adriano Espaillat

Representative Dwight Evans

Representative Sylvia R. Garcia

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva

Representative Brian Higgins

Representative Sara Jacobs

Representative Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Representative Mondaire Jones

Representative Barbara Lee

Representative Alan Lowenthal

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney

Representative James P. McGovern

Representative Seth Moulton

Representative Grace Napolitano

Representative Joe Neguse

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Representative Mark Pocan

Representative Ayanna Pressley

Representative David E. Price

Representative Bobby L. Rush

Representative Linda T. Sánchez

Representative Adam Smith

Representative Mark Takano

Representative Rashida Tlaib

Representative Paul D. Tonko

Representative Ritchie Torres

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman

Representative Jennifer Wexton

 

 

 

###