Why is the Presidential Determination Number so Important?

Author: Harley Dority, Guest Blogger

Refugee Council USA releases a report to breakdown the number of refugees admitted to the United States every month. While the number of refugees permitted to enter the US this year is 45,000, we have resettled far fewer. According to the report, we should have resettled at least 37,500 refugees by June of 2018. In the first ten months of this fiscal year, we have resettled less than half. The number stood at 18,214 at the end of June. By comparison the number is staggeringly low. The Department of State noted that in 2016, American communities and resettlement agencies welcomed 84,995 refugees in total. This meant that over 80,000 people fleeing war, violence, persecution, and insecurity had a chance to start over with the help of community members and resettlement partners who provided essential necessities such as housing, education, and employment. One such agency is Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA), who until 2018 welcomed more than 1,000 refugees each year.

So, why is this relevant now? The fiscal year starts on October 1 and ends September 30. This month the President has the important job of setting the Presidential Determination regarding refugee resettlement for the upcoming fiscal year. This determination caps the number of refugees that can resettle in the United States. The number may not be crucially discussed in the news but for resettlement agencies, community centers, and advocacy groups around the country it determines what their action plans will be for the coming months. The US refugee resettlement program is an intricate system with many moving parts, most of which require coordination between government entities such as the Office of Refugee Resettlement, community churches, and resettlement agencies like LSS/NCA.

While communities all over the country will act in support of refugees regardless of the number permitted for entry, it is important to think of refugee resettlement in context. Earlier this year, the UN Refugee Agency released updated numbers on how many of the world’s population are currently displaced and how many are considered refugees under the internationally recognized definition. In total, 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, with 25.4 million considered refugees and 3.1 million seeking asylum. Despite these shocking numbers, only 102,800 have been resettled worldwide this year and 85 percent of the world’s displaced people are in developing countries. The presidential determination should recognize the level of need that exists around the world.

Follow our Facebook page for notifications about the presidential determination and its pending announcement. In the meantime please visit our website to learn more about how you can stand with refugees.

UPDATE: The Presidential Determination Number has since been posted. See our statement in response to the FY19 refugee resettlement ceiling.

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