U.S. Catholic Bishops Advocate to Welcome More Refugees in 2019

Geneva, 17 August 2018 - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is advocating for an increase in the number of refugees to be resettled in the country during the fiscal year 2019. 

The bishops are inviting Catholics who are U.S. citizens to sign a petition to the President asking that “at least 75,000 refugees” be resettled during the next fiscal year. They also suggest organizing meetings with their local elected officials to move the issue forward. 

Chaldean refugee children resettled in El Cajon, CaliforniaYoung members of the Chaldean Catholic Community in El Cajón, California, who arrived in the USA through the refugee resettlement program. Photo © ICMC The advocacy campaign precedes the Presidential Determination expected by  30 September, which will set the target number of refugees allowed into the country between October 2018 and September 2019. During the last fiscal year, this number was a record low of 45,000, with the actual number of resettled refugees falling short of the target by about half, the lowest figure since the implementation of the Refugee Act in 1980. 

“Standing up for refugees is more crucial than ever,” says Tony Cube, national manager of Justice for Immigrants, a coalition of Catholic organizations convened by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) to mobilize institutions and individuals in support of immigrants and refugees. 

In addition to the petition, Justice for Immigrants has developed an advocacy toolkit with suggestions for a letter to the U.S. President and instructions on how to set up a meeting with local lawmakers. The advocacy toolkit also suggests requesting robust funding of overseas assistance to displaced populations. Caritas Internationalis’ “Share the Journey” campaign contributed to the development of the toolkit. 

The USCCB, along with a national network of Catholic partners, has resettled nearly one-third of all refugees to the U.S. since 1980. The current decrease in resettled people comes at a time when the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide is the highest since World War II.

USCCB’s work with refugees and migrants embodies Catholic social teaching that every human being is entitled to dignity and Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees.