U.S. on Track to Resettle More Refugees in 2019 Than Last Year, But Faith-based Advocacy Groups Say It is Still Too Few

Galen Carey, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, speaks during a congressional briefing on refugee resettlement at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2019. Also pictured: Matthew Wilch of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (left), Jenny Yang of World Relief (middle-left) and Melanie Nezer of HIAS (right). | The Christian Post

The United States is on pace to resettle slightly more refugees in fiscal year 2019 than it did in the previous year but faith-based refugee advocates are still pressing the U.S. to do much more to help people fleeing persecution across the globe.  

As the administration touts international religious freedom as one of its core priorities in foreign policy, advocates told congressional staffers during a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill that the Donald Trump administration’s refugee resettlement policies are negatively impacting the state of religious freedom worldwide.

On the day before the U.S. State Department’s second-annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, representatives from the nation’s leading faith-based refugee resettlement agencies challenged the Trump administration to put an end to its drastic reduction of the refugee resettlement program.

They warned that as the U.S. has cut refugee resettlement by over 66 percent from fiscal year 2016, other countries have followed the U.S.’ lead in closing their doors to refugees.

“At a time when we are seeing the largest numbers of people displaced around the world, we should be continuing to lead in resettling refugees and not closing the door to prevent refugees from coming here in the first place, especially when the administration has been advocating for persecuted religious minorities,” Jenny Yang, senior vice president for advocacy and policy at the evangelical refugee resettlement agency World Relief, said.

“But they have effectively shut the door on them to even come to the United States of America. We have to practice at home what we are teaching abroad. When we are not allowing refugees who have fled persecution to find hope here, then we are effectively continuing their suffering overseas.”

While World Relief and the other eight organizations authorized to resettle refugees in the U.S. have long spoken out about the Trump administration’s cuts to refugee resettlement in the U.S., the Trump administration is quietly on track to resettle around 6,000 more refugees in fiscal year 2019 than it did in fiscal year 2018.

According to refugee processing data compiled by World Relief, the U.S. has already resettled at least 22,386 refugees in fiscal year 2019, which ends Sept. 30. By comparison, the U.S. resettled 22,491 refugees in fiscal year 2018.

According to World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.S. is on pace to resettle a total of 28,670 refugees by the end of the 2019 fiscal year. That number would fall just short of the Trump administration’s stated refugee resettlement ceiling of 30,000.

Although the number of resettled refugees appears to be on the incline from 2018, it still falls far short of the 95,000-refugee cap that World Relief and other refugee resettlement agencies have called for.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith

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