“Enlarge the Resettlement Lifeboat and Fill Every Seat” — the title of an Aug. 21 Justice for Immigrants campaign webinar on the upcoming “presidential determination” of next year’s refugee admissions — was a call to action based on the image of the United States’ resettlement program as a lifeboat rescuing refugees from persecution.
In the last year, that “lifeboat” shrank. In his presidential determination for fiscal year 2018, President Donald Trump set the maximum number of refugees allowed to enter at an historic low of 45,000, despite the fact that United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the world is facing its worst crisis of displaced people in recorded history.
As “travel ban” executive orders and other policy decisions have barred nationals of certain countries, slowed vetting and diverted resources from processing refugees, the U.S. is also on track to fill less than half of even the reduced number of lifeboat seats.
Amid reports that this trend could continue, with a possible presidential determination of 15,000-25,000 for fiscal year 2019 when the decision is due Sept. 30, Catholic groups are combatting misinformation about refugees and advocating to members of Congress and administration officials in an effort to convince Trump to raise the cap.
A refugee ceiling of 15,000 during an unprecedented refugee crisis “would be so low it’s laughable,” said Donald Kerwin, executive director of Center for Migration Studies of New York, an educational institute connected with the Scalabrini International Migration Network.
The National Catholic Reporter