ICMC Urges U.S. Government to Maintain Historic Welcome to Refugees Needing Resettlement

Geneva, 19 July 2019 - The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) urges the U.S. administration to maintain the country’s history of welcome and solidarity with the most vulnerable refugees by sustaining its U.S. Refugee Assistance Program for resettlement.

ICMC’s appeal follows recent reports that the U.S. government is considering a drastic reduction in the number of refugees to be admitted through the program, cutting the number nearly down to zero for the fiscal year 2020.

“We have witnessed the hard work, expertise, and talents that resettled refugees contribute to their resettlement countries,” says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo. These refugees include religious minorities and victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and resettlement is the only durable solution that allows them and their families to rebuild their lives in safety. Photo: a Chaldean Catholic couple from Iraq, resettled with the help if ICMC and its partners, poses for a photo in their home in California. ©ICMC As a longtime partner of the U.S. Refugee Assistance program, ICMC is deeply concerned by the impact that this proposal would have on the lives of thousands of people in need of critical life-saving assistance.

“Since our founding in 1951, ICMC has been privileged to restore dignity and inspire change among hundreds of thousands of refugees by facilitating resettlement to the United States and many other countries,” says Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, ICMC Secretary General. “We have witnessed the hard work, expertise, and talents that resettled refugees contribute to their resettlement countries.”

These refugees include ethnic and religious minorities as well as victims of torture and gender-based violence, who are unable to return to their homes of origin, and often experience a lack of adequate protection in the countries where they first sought refuge. Resettlement is the only durable solution that allows them and their families to rebuild their lives in safety.

Thousands of refugees are waiting for several years, and under precarious conditions, to be resettled to the U.S. and elsewhere. We are concerned about the impact that further delays will have on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. This is especially true for refugees who have been separated from their families for several years and are desperate to reunite with their loved ones.

The reports of drastic cuts to refugee admissions come when nearly 26 million refugees, an all-time high, have fled war, persecution and violence. In 2018, less than 7% of worldwide resettlement needs were met.

“Faith-based communities and volunteers across the U.S. have the desire, capacity, and resources to return to at least our historically normal level of welcoming refugees,” said Mr. William Canny, member of ICMC’s Governing Committee and executive director for the Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

ICMC sincerely hopes that leaders and decision-makers in the U.S. and other resettlement countries will be guided by this appeal of Pope Francis, “our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War […] We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal [...] Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated” (Address to the U.S. Congress, 24 September 2015).