CWS Praises Introduction of GRACE Act as Important Step towards Rebuilding Refugee Program

March 25, 2021

Washington, D.C.—Church World Service today celebrates that Congress is re-introducing the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act (GRACE) Act, legislation that would rebuild the United States’ legacy of welcome by establishing a minimum refugee admissions goal of 125,000 and increase congressional oversight over the administration’s operations of the resettlement program. The legislation was introduced last night in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) tomorrow. 

“The GRACE Act not only represents the needs of the resettlement program, but the hopes of our nation when it comes to welcoming the stranger. At no other time has our moral responsibility to uphold these principles been greater. During the last administration, we saw the consequences of allowing immoral political pandering to guide harmful anti-refugee policies. The GRACE Act is an important step forward in preventing future administrations from blatantly disregarding our moral and legal obligations,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. “For decades this public-private program has maintained bipartisan support, with the belief in our moral obligation to the vulnerable and the hard-evidence of how refugees benefit our communities. When that program was undermined and dismantled, families that looked to us with hope were left in harm’s way. It’s time for Congress to ensure that never happens again.”

Over the past 41 years the United States resettled over three million refugees across the nation. Those who arrived through the vital resettlement program have become part of American communities as neighbors, congregants, coworkers, business owners, community leaders, taxpayers and elected leaders. Under the Trump administration, however, refugee admissions were severely cut by over 80 percent, to historic lows, causing unconscionable damage to refugee families, American communities, and the infrastructure in place to welcome and support new arrivals. 

Last month, President Biden issued an executive order signaling his administration’s intent to restore and rebuild the life-saving program with an eye toward raising the refugee admissions goal to 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. He also proposed, and met with Congress to discuss, increasing the refugee admissions goal for this year to 62,500 to meet the unprecedented and ever evolving refugee crisis, but has thus far failed to do so. While he delays, vulnerable men, women and children remain separated from their families and in harm’s way.

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. 

For more information, or to speak with Owen, contact Church World Service at