CWS Outraged by Continuation of Historic Low Refugee Admissions Goal, Urges Administration to Honor its Promise to Rebuild Resettlement Program

April 16, 2021

Washington, D.C.—Church World Service today expressed outrage with today’s announcement that the Biden administration plans to keep the historic-low refugee admissions goal for FY 2021 in place for the remainder of this fiscal year. This follows a significant delay in signing a revised Presidential Determination on refugee resettlement, which has caused irreparable damage to many refugees who were already approved for resettlement. Although CWS is encouraged by the restoration of regional allocations that undo the previous administration’s harmfully restrictive resettlement categories, leaving the current admissions goal in place keeps thousands in harm’s way. This amounts to a broken promise to the American public and prevents the United States from meaningfully rebuilding this vital humanitarian program. 

“There is no moral reason to keep the historic-low refugee admissions goal of 15,000 in place for the rest of this year, nor was there any morality in the significant delay in restoring regional allocations. The harm caused by the delay cannot be overstated—thousands of refugees who were ready for travel to the United States last month have seen their medical and security checks start to expire. This means that they will have to wait months—if not years—to actually be resettled in the United States and reunited with loved ones,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Church World Service. “The United States can and should be resettling refugees—and welcoming asylum seekers and unaccompanied children—as it seeks to retake the mantle of moral leadership around the world. If the president is true to his word, then he will take immediate steps to welcome as many refugees this fiscal year as possible and truly rebuild the resettlement program to resettle 125,000 in FY 2022.”

CWS is deeply concerned that the Biden administration had proposed a revised admissions goal of 62,500 for this fiscal year—and complied with U.S. law to consult with Congress ahead of formalizing that plan—only to back away from that proposal. Since the inception of the modern resettlement program through the Refugee Act of 1980, the annual bipartisan-supported admissions goal averaged 95,000. Yet, under the Trump administration, that goal plummeted, culminating in a FY 2021 goal of 15,000—an historic low. 

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. 

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