TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to Prioritize Welcoming Policies In Upcoming Funding Legislation

October 4, 2023

On September 30th, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that averted a government shutdown and funds the federal government from October 1st – November 17th. The CR is a stopgap measure designed to temporarily fund the government as Congress negotiates a longer-term agreement. 

Importantly, the current CR excluded the harmful, draconian, anti-asylum provisions previously debated. However, the CR did not include critical supplemental resources to expand our capacity to welcome, and it excluded an extension in eligibility for new Ukrainian humanitarian parole arrivals, who enter the U.S. after September 30th, to access certain refugee resettlement services. As a result, as of October 1st, most newly-arriving Ukrainians arriving with humanitarian parole are ineligible to receive benefits from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) or other benefits, such as Medicaid, TANF, and SNAP.

As Congress moves forward with negotiating federal funding legislation for this Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, whether via another short-term CR, a final FY 2024 appropriations package, or a potential supplemental funding bill to assist Ukraine, now is a critical time to call for Members of Congress to robustly fund the U.S. resettlement program to equip our communities with the resources they need to help newcomers integrate and thrive – including needed resources to protect unaccompanied children. It is equally imperative that Congress retroactively extend benefits to Ukrainians who arrived in the U.S. after September 30th – and continue to reject the inclusion of immoral anti-asylum, anti-immigrant policies. Federal funding legislation should never be used as a tool to embed cruelty in U.S. immigration policy.

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 essential benefits to arriving Ukrainians, robustly fund services to welcome refugees, unaccompanied children, and asylum seekers, and reduce reliance on immigrant detention, deportations, and border militarization.

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, I urge you to invest supplemental funding for the refugee-related accounts provided below and to reject the inclusion of any harmful anti-asylum, anti-immigrant provisions. In the event of another temporary CR or supplemental package, I encourage you to:

  • Include retroactive authorization language that lives up to our promises to those fleeing Ukraine. I urge you to support the language that was included in the supplemental request that extends access to certain Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) benefits for Ukrainians arriving after September 30th via humanitarian parole, including those entering through the Uniting for Ukraine program. I further strongly urge you to support the inclusion of bipartisan language to ensure Ukrainian parolees have access to driver’s licenses (H.R. 3259) and a path to permanent status (H.R. 3911). 
  • Include retroactive authorization language that lives up to our promises to those fleeing Afghanistan. I urge you to retroactively authorize Afghan humanitarian parolees who arrive after September 30th to be eligible for full refugee resettlement benefits – and to attach the Afghan Adjustment Act (S.2327 / H.R.4627) in any upcoming funding package.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

To the extent Congress negotiates a final FY24 omnibus funding package, I urge you to provide robust funds for accounts under the LHHS, SFOPS, and DHS subcommittees, as well as important oversight language. Welcoming newcomers is part of what makes this country and our community strong. Thank you.”

AMPLIFY ON SOCIAL MEDIA: 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 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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