TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to Invest in Welcoming Policies, Avoid Government Shutdown

September 29, 2023

Right now, Congress is negotiating federal funding legislation for the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2024, which starts Sunday, October 1st. But as the funding deadline approaches, there is no agreement that could pass Congress in a timely manner that would fund the federal government after September 30th. In absence of congressionally-passed funding legislation, the federal government will shut down after September 30th. While the House considers proposals, including elements of this harmful bill, that contain dramatic spending cuts and draconian asylum restrictions, the Senate is considering their own Continuing Resolution – a stopgap measure to temporarily fund the government as Congress negotiates a longer-term agreement – that maintains current funding levels without undermining asylum protections. However, alarming reports have emerged that some Senators may seek to include anti-asylum, anti-immigrant provisions in the Senate’s funding proposal in an attempt to garner bipartisan support. A Continuing Resolution is designed to be a temporary solution that funds the federal government in good faith – not a tool to embed cruelty in U.S. immigration policy.

A shutdown impairs our ability to help protect the most vulnerable among us and puts real lives at risk, including those who are fleeing violence and persecution.  The longer a government shutdown persists, the more the refugee resettlement system is weakened, thus demonstrating Congress’ failure to uphold our nation’s commitment to the protection of, and investment in, our communities. Now is a critical time to call for robust investments in the U.S. resettlement program – including services to protect unaccompanied children – to equip our communities with the resources they need to help newcomers integrate and thrive.

Conflict, persecution, and climate change have resulted in an unprecedented 110+ million people displaced worldwide, and ongoing crises in Sudan, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela and elsewhere have forced more than 37 million refugees to flee their homes. Bold humanitarian leadership – and bold investment in refugee resettlement – is needed now more than ever. Join us in calling on Congress to provide robust funding to welcome refugees, unaccompanied children, and asylum seekers, reduce reliance on immigrant detention, deportations, and border militarization, and ultimately avoid a government shutdown that could inflict devastating consequences on humanitarian programs.

If you live in Texas, Florida, or Kentucky, support from your members of Congress is especially critical to secure robust funding to welcome newcomers and ensure the long-term integration and economic success of refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants in communities across your state. Below are state-specific action alerts for you to call upon your members of Congress to robustly fund needed services:

On the right hand side, you can send an email or make a phone call that connects you to your Members of Congress.

Sample Script/Email: My name is [insert name], and as your constituent from [City/Town] and a [person of faith/refugee/member of my community], I urge you to support provisions in an upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 funding package that lives up to our legacy as a nation of welcome. Specifically, in a potential Continuing Resolution that that rejects any harmful anti-asylum, anti-immigrant proposal and instead invests in our communities. I urge you to:

  • Support robust funding for international assistance to refugees around the world and to address delays in the refugee pipeline overseas. I urge you to support $1.2 billion for the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) Account and $1.3 billion for the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) Account, as was included in the White House’s August 10 supplemental request. Concerning international assistance, I further urge you to support $100 million for the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) Account. 
  • Support investment in the long-term integration and economic success of newcomers. I urge you to bolster funds for the Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account, which supports the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), including by supporting the $1.9 billion in REA funding in the administration’s anomaly request and the $100 million in REA funding dedicated towards the ongoing resettlement of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion included in the supplemental request. I further urge you to support housing assistance for all vulnerable populations served by ORR, including by creating a newcomer housing voucher and by authorizing ORR-eligible populations to receive housing support.
  • Include authorization language that lives up to our promises to those fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine. I urge you to support the language that was included in the supplemental request that extends access to refugee benefits for Ukrainians arriving after September 30 via the Uniting for Ukraine program. I further strongly urge you to support the inclusion of the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.2327 / H.R.4627) in any upcoming funding package, as well as bipartisan language to ensure Ukrainian parolees have access to driver’s licenses and a path to permanent status.
  • Reject additional funding for immigrant detention, deportations, and border militarization, instead investing in community wholeness and bolstering local community’s efforts to welcome arriving asylum seekers. Concerning DHS accounts, I urge you to reject additional funds for CBP and ICE enforcement efforts – and to support the $600 million for the Shelter and Services Program that was included in the supplemental request, as well as $600 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to tackle processing backlogs for benefits and status. 
  • Strengthen protections for unaccompanied children and their families. I urge you to support robust funding for legal, mental health care, and post-release services for unaccompanied children as well as home- or small-scale placements, access to Child Advocates, and ensuring family unity. Congress should further incorporate the supplemental request of $100 million for child labor prevention by the Department of Labor to enforce child labor laws and prevent dangerous and exploitative labor arrangements.

A shutdown impairs our ability to help protect the most vulnerable among us and puts real lives at risk, including those who are fleeing violence and persecution. I urge you to come to the table on the critical investments described above – and to reject inhumane proposals that restrict pathways to protection like asylum and parole. Welcoming newcomers is part of what makes this country and our community strong. Thank you.


Share this message with national leaders on social media! See below for sample social media posts and click here for sample graphics

@legislator it’s a fact: Refugees make our communities strong. It is critical for Congress to invest in welcoming programs that allow newcomers to integrate and thrive. #RefugeesWelcome

@legislator Even a brief government shutdown could  devastate the refugee resettlement program. Congress must seek solutions that support the most vulnerable – & reject inhumane poison pills that would harm asylum seekers and others seeking protection!

@legislator Three ways you can invest in our capacity to welcome:
Support overseas refugee assistance accounts
– Support funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement
– Invest in USCIS staffing to address processing backlogs

@legislator The billions of dollars ICE gives to ICE and CBP enforcement should be directed towards programs that welcome the newcomer and accompany the vulnerable!

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