“To say that we’re disappointed is an understatement,” Bethany Christian Services’ Chris Palusky says. “The number is at 30,000 this year and if we look back maybe three years ago, it was at a 110,000.”
The refugee cap has been cut considerably in recent years. The cut for this year alone will be a 33 percent decrease.
The U.S.’s resettlement and admissions program has previously been set according to the need worldwide. Palusky says the program was fair when the ceiling was set at 110,000. And, for three decades previously, the ceiling did not drop below 70,000 admissions.
However, with 68.5 million refugees and internally displaced people on a global scale, this is the largest refugee crisis the modern world has seen. Yet, the U.S. is now accepting less than half of one percent by admitting 30,000 people under refugee status.
What’s more is it is questionable if even that many people will be accepted into the U.S. within the next fiscal year.
“This year it looks like we’re only going to resettle 22,000 out of the 45,000 that we’ve agreed to… Now, we’re down to the 30,000 of which I would question if there’s actually the intention to resettle that amount,” Palusky says.
Giving Up Leadership and Responsibility
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said by cutting refugee admissions, the U.S. is giving up humanitarian leadership and responsibility. Further, it said the U.S. is reneging on commitments to allies and refugees, specifically those who live in dangerous situations due to religious beliefs and having assisted U.S. troops and missions.
“I couldn’t agree with the IRC more,” Palusky says.
“The United States is giving up leadership in this space, and I think we not only have the humanitarian imperative to help with this but the moral imperative of our country… We’ve let down allies. We’ve let down refugees.”
The IRC reports the number of Christians and Rohingya refugees who have been admitted have dropped this year by 40 percent each. Admissions for Muslim refugees have dropped by 90 percent. For Syrian refugees, only 60 people have been admitted. For Iraqi refugees, 48 have been admitted. And, for Yazidi people, just five people have been admitted.
Each of these groups faces challenges, conflict, and violence in their home nations, and persecution due to religious beliefs and supporting the U.S. in actions.
However, despite these groups’ specific needs for asylum, the new refugee ceiling will continue decreasing their chances for safety in the U.S. whatever their religious beliefs or people groups may be.
Why has the refugee cap continued to drop?
“We’ve seen politicians talk about their platforms. It’s anti-immigration and anti-refugee, and they’re not wanting to allow folks into the country,” Palusky says.
“We believe as people of faith, as Christians, we should abdicate for the least of these, people who have been through war, conflict, and need a good place to resettle.”
Bethany works in helping to resettle refugees, however, Palusky says it has grown harder to serve the vulnerable every day due to cuts like this.
Bethany encourages you to get involved and take action by speaking up for the most vulnerable people groups in the world.
“Reach out to Congress because it’s not done yet. The refugee ceiling has been set at 30,000, but there wasn’t a meaningful conversation with Congress. There’s a legal process that has to transpire where administration has to reach out and talk to Congress on this ceiling. That did not happen, has not happened for the past two years.”
As Bethany workers have spoken with congress members, Paluskys says they have found that they also believe immigration is good for the nation.
“I think if they heard from their constituents more, they would be willing to step up.”
Contact your representatives and share your thoughts. Be a voice for the voiceless.
Also, pray for the U.S. Administration and government to have wisdom going forward. Pray they would see the need of vulnerable and persecuted people throughout the globe and would act accordingly. Pray Congress would also call for a meeting and speak against the newest refugee cut.
Finally, Bethany encourages you to get to know a refugee in your hometown. You can be an encouragement and light to them. Learn more here.
“We always encourage others to step up and do their fair share. Well, it’s our time to step up and do our fair share.”