LSSNCA WELCOMES PRESIDENT BIDEN’S DECISION TO REBUILD AND ENHANCE THE U.S. REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAM (USRAP)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 5, 2021

Contact: Dana Lea | lead@lssnca.org | 615-904-5976

WASHINGTON D.C. – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) praises an Executive Order released by the Biden Administration last night intending to rebuild and enhance programs for resettling refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders. This Executive Order calls for a review of delays in the USRAP and enhancement of access to the program by refugees, addresses concerns with the processing of visas to Afghans and Iraqis who “faithfully assisted the United States Government in conflict areas for at least 1 year or made exceptional contributions in a shorter period and have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a result of their service,” lays out steps to “improve the efficacy, integrity, security, and transparency of USRAP,” and requires the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) to provide a report on the relationship between climate change and migration.

Upon review of resettlement processes, we expect the Administration to commit to welcome and resettle 125,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, which would be the highest refugee admissions ceiling that the U.S. has seen since 1993.

“The United States has a rich tradition of welcoming refugees to our country,” says Kristyn Peck, LSSNCA’s CEO. “Raising the refugee ceiling from its historic low of 15,000 for Fiscal Year 2021 to 125,000 will signal a restoration of the United States’ moral leadership as a nation that is a beacon of hope for the more than 79.5 million persons who have been forcibly displaced the globe, as estimated by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR),” she said.

Throughout the 40-year history of the Refugee Act of 1980, which authorized the president to set an annual number of refugees to be admitted in any given fiscal year, the average number authorized for admittance has averaged 95,000 refugees. Known as the Presidential Determination (PD), this annual cap on refugee admissions is set by the President in consultation with the Judiciary Committees in Congress and the Secretary of State.

Over the past four years, the United States has experienced a continued decline in the number of refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The rationale provided for the lowered ceiling was national security; however, refugees are thoroughly vetted by several federal agencies responsible for national security and anti-terrorism. In 2017, the Trump Administration lowered this admissions number to 50,000, followed by sequential declines to 45,000, 30,000, and 18,000 people. In Fiscal Year 2020, despite the refugee cap being set at 18,000, only 11,814 people were actually resettled in the U.S. On October 1, 2020, President Trump issued his final Presidential Determination on U.S. refugee admissions at a historic low of merely 15,000 people. 

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Since 1917, LSSNCA has served boldly in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Today, we walk alongside those most in need in the greater DMV to offer hope and accompaniment through services that foster healthy and self-sufficient livelihoods. This includes welcoming New Americans, strengthening families and providing a safe haven to unaccompanied children,, providing holistic health and wellness services, , workforce development, mentorship and education on healthy relationships for young people, and  our Youth Haven camps for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. Together and with the help of partners and volunteers we work to promote welcoming and compassionate communities.      

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