TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to Support Refugees in FY 2025 and Supplemental Funding Efforts

April 1, 2024

Late on March 22 – nearly halfway into this fiscal year – Congress finally passed an FY 2024 appropriations bill that will keep the government funded through September 30. The bill covered a number of key refugee accounts and policies, including several accounts that support the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and expand our capacity to provide lifesaving assistance to refugees and other displaced persons at home and abroad. 

While important funding and authorization language was included in the legislation, the bill still represents a dramatic slash in funding for vital refugee accounts that, without further action from Congress, could result in historic cuts in programming and support for displaced populations. That’s because in prior fiscal years, a significant proportion of the funding for refugee resettlement and support came in the form of emergency spending bills that Congress and the administration worked together to pass to supplement full-year funding measures. No supplemental bill has moved yet this fiscal year (despite the Biden administration requesting more than $10 billion additional in humanitarian aid). 

For example, when incorporating emergency funding, this FY 2024 funding bill included a $4.4 billion cut from FY 2023 funding levels for the Refugee and Entrant Assistance Account (REA), which supports the Office of Refugee Resettlement by funding core services such as job training, English language classes, services for unaccompanied children, and refugee school impact grants. The March 22 bill also functionally included a $519 million cut for the Migration and Refugee Assistance Account (MRA), which helps fund overseas resettlement processing and the initial reception and support of refugees as they arrive in the U.S.

Concerningly, the bill also failed to extend authorization of refugee services for arriving Ukrainian and Afghan parolees – leaving them cut off from the support they need to thrive and placing individuals we have pledged to protect at risk. It included language banning funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the only organization equipped to provide wide-scale humanitarian assistance that Gazans urgently need. And while funding for pro-refugee and immigrant programming faced cuts and restrictions, the bill included record funding for ICE detention beds and border militarization.

With record displacement around the world and the need for strong investments to expand our capacity to support refugees and asylum seekers here at home, Congress must do more to live up to our nation’s long legacy of welcome.

As Congress considers supplemental funding in FY 2024 and full year funding for FY 2025, join us in calling on the House and Senate to robustly fund key refugee and immigrant accounts, include key authorizing language to improve and expand services, and reallocate funding away from border militarization and ICE detention facilities.

On the right-hand side, you can send an email to your Members of Congress.

Sample Email/Script: “My name is [INSERT NAME]. As your constituent from [CITY/TOWN] and a [person of faith/refugee/member of my community], I call on you to support provisions in upcoming funding and appropriations negotiations that live up to our legacy as a nation of welcome and allow refugees and immigrants in our community to thrive.

In a potential FY 2024 supplemental funding bill, I urge you to support:

  • $2.334 billion in additional funding for the Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account, $4.345 billion for the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account, and $5.655 billion for the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account (all equal to the Biden administration’s October supplemental request). 
  • Uphold our promises to arriving Ukrainian and Afghan parolees by extending authorization to receive critical Office of Refugee Resettlement services – authorization that was suddenly cut off on September 30, 2023 and has not yet been restored. 
  • Reject the inclusion of harmful and permanent asylum policy restrictions, including those that would reinstitute Trump-era practices like Title 42 expulsions or Remain in Mexico. 
  • For full supplemental funding recommendations, see: https://bit.ly/FY24RefugeePrioritiesNovember2023.

In FY 2025 appropriations legislation, I urge you to support:

  • In the LHHS funding bill, $11.795 billion for the Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account to support the Office of Refugee Resettlement. This funding provides critical initial investments in the long-term integration and economic success of newcomers. I also urge you to support oversight language to ensure the refugee resettlement program is sustainable and resilient. For full LHHS refugee priorities see: https://bit.ly/FY25LHHSRefugeeAccounts
  • In the SFOPS funding bill, $4.447 billion for the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account, $4.85 billion for the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, and $100 million for the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account. These accounts support overseas assistance to those experiencing forced displacement and fund U.S. refugee admissions. I further urge you to codify vital programs and departments like the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM); the Office of the Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE); the Lautenberg program, and the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. For full SFOPS refugee priorities, see: https://bit.ly/FY25SFOPSRefugeeAccounts
  • In the DHS funding bill, I urge you to support $432 million for USCIS Operations and Support and $30 million for the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant program. This funding is critical to address refugee and asylum processing backlogs, as well as long delays for newcomers in accessing benefits, work authorization, and adjustments of status. I further urge you to support $4.5 billion for the FEMA Shelter and Services Program, $500 million for the Destination Reception Fund, and $100 million for the CRCL Case Management Pilot Program, all to support a continuum of investment and support for communities and organizations engaged in the reception of asylum seekers. For full DHS refugee priorities, see: https://bit.ly/FY25USCISRefugeeAccounts
  • For more information on FY2025 refugee oversight priorities. see: https://bit.ly/FY25RCUSAOversight.

Strong investments in refugee and newcomer support and self-sufficiency pay for themselves many times over. A recent report found that refugees and asylees had a net fiscal benefit of $124 billion over a fifteen year period. I call on you to live up to our nation’s legacy as a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution and to use appropriations legislation to invest in policies and accounts that expand our capacity to welcome. Thank you.”

AMPLIFY ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Share this message with national leaders on social media! See below for sample social media posts, and see 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 Congress gives to ICE and CBP enforcement should instead be directed towards programs that welcome the newcomer and accompany the vulnerable!

Additional Resources:

Funding Priorities

Policy Asks and Analysis

Fact Sheets