U.S. Catholics concerned about low number of refugees resettled to the country

Washington D.C., 29 March 2018 - In letters to the U.S. Government, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration as well as Catholic organizations and leaders expressed deep concern about the historically low number of refugee resettlements reported over the last six months.

Refugees resettled to Los Angeles in 2016“For 37 years, the U.S. has been proud to be the world leader in welcoming and resettling these most vulnerable refugees, and we have been joyful partners to help accomplish this life-saving, humanitarian work.” Photo: Refugees resettled to Los Angeles in 2016. © UN Photo/Mark Garten Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, recently sent a letter to the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and of State urging dialogue on the country’s Refugee Admissions Program. 

Six months into the current fiscal year, the U.S. federal government has welcomed approximately 9,600 refugees. This figure represents less than 25% of the 45,000 refugees allowed for the whole fiscal year by the 2018 Presidential Determination, thus being the lowest target in the history of the refugee program, which was founded in 1980.

“The current level of refugee arrivals leaves thousands of vulnerable people in harm’s way and searching for protection,” wrote Bishop Vásquez in his letter. “Most often they are at-risk women and children who are too vulnerable to remain in the region and/or in situations too dangerous for them to wait in the host country until the conflict at home has ended.”

Bishop Vásquez further states, “As Christians, our concerns for refugees is integral to our life of faith.” He concluded, “In this spirit, we urge the Administration to renew a bipartisan commitment to resettlement for refugees, including religious minorities.”

In a parallel development, 189 Catholic organizations along with 1,359 religious and lay leaders voiced their concerns over the current state of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

“For 37 years, the U.S. has been proud to be the world leader in welcoming and resettling these most vulnerable refugees, and we, as Catholic organizations, priests, brothers, sisters, and lay professionals and volunteers, have been joyful partners to help accomplish this life-saving, humanitarian work,” they wrote in a letter to the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and of State.

“Refugees are more than just numbers and statistics, they are our neighbors, our friends, our fellow parishioners, and our brothers and sisters in Christ,” the Catholic organizations and leaders stated.

“We urge admitting at least 45,000 refugees this year and 75,000 next year. […] We also request the Administration to listen to our communities when we stand in solidarity to welcome refugees in this moment of global need.”

The USCCB department of Migration and Refugee Services is a long-standing member of the International Catholic Migration Commission.