September 10, 2019 — New York
American Jewish Committee (AJC) is urging the Trump Administration to increase, rather than further decrease, the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States. The call comes amidst reports that the presidential determination of the refugee admission ceiling for Fiscal Year 2020 could drop to zero, effectively eliminating the U.S. refugee program.
AJC strongly supports increasing the refugee admissions ceiling to at least 75,000. In the most recent full year, FY 2018, just under half the sharply reduced number of refugees the Administration had set as its ceiling – 45,000 – were, in fact, admitted.
“The United States Refugee Admissions Program has played a key role in saving the lives of millions of vulnerable refugees – people who have fled their own countries in fear for their lives,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “We encourage the Administration to recommit to global leadership in refugee resettlement by increasing the refugee admissions ceiling, meeting refugee admissions targets, and working to ensure more efficient refugee resettlement.”
The number of global refugees reached nearly 26 million in 2018, but the U.S. resettled only 22,491 refugees in FY 2018, and 12,151 in the first six months of FY 2019. As of July 2, 2019, another 8,819 refugees were approved for travel to the United States but had not yet traveled to the U.S.; 29,362 more refugees had passed their USCIS interviews designating them as refugees, but are still awaiting travel approval.
All refugees admitted for resettlement have been screened by qualified U.S. government agencies and designated as refugees due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or other protected grounds.
AJC, founded in 1906, has been the public policy voice of a community descended from refugees and immigrants in a nation founded and built by refugees and immigrants. As an organization that has long affirmed the necessity of assuring security in the implementation of immigration laws and procedures, AJC firmly supports the international obligations of the U.S. to assist refugees and the leadership Washington historically has shown in refugee resettlement.