CWS Applauds Bipartisan Congressional Letter in Support of Refugee Resettlement

May 5, 2017

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Letter led by Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Lankford (R-OK) affirms importance of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and seeks clarity on executive order from Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly

Washington, D.C. – Church World Service today commended Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Lankford (R-OK) for leading a bipartisan letter in support of the refugee resettlement program. The letter asks meaningful questions about how the program is operating given President Trump’s executive order to drastically reduce and temporarily suspend refugee resettlement, which is currently prevented by a court injunction.

“This bipartisan effort reflects the welcome for refugees that we see every day across the country,” said Erol Kekic, Executive Director of CWS’s Immigration and Refugee Program. “Now it is time for the Administration to follow suit and ensure access to protection for the world’s most vulnerable refugees. CWS stands ready to work with the Administration to save more lives through this public / private partnership that was started by faith-based organizations and demonstrates our best values of hospitality and resilience.”

The letter, which was also signed by Senators Rubio (R-FL), Lee (R-UT), Booker (D-NJ), Flake (R-AZ), Brown (D-OH), Murkowski (R-AK), Carper (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Tillis (R-NC), Gillibrand (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Warren (D-MA), and Wyden (D-OR) asks Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of State Secretary Rex Tillerson for clarity about current operations and the future of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

“The USRAP is a critical pillar of our national foreign policy and enables the United States to fulfill key international commitments,” the letter reads. “Refugees come from the most vulnerable and persecuted populations around the world and are the most securely vetted travelers to the United States, spending an average of two years in the application process prior to approval. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, we are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis in modern history…we must not lose focus of the need to also protect others fleeing persecution around the world.”

Questions posed by the Senators include whether or not the refugee application and screening process is in operation, the status of refugees who are already approved by DHS and awaiting final travel bookings, and the number of refugees who are genocide survivors, U.S-affiliated Iraqis, or awaiting reunification with family members in the United States.

CWS is hopeful that Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly will answer these questions promptly and provide a path forward for refugees seeking safety. For more information please see today’s article in the Washington Post.

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at