Today HIAS sent a letter signed by 36 national Jewish organizations to President Trump urging him to allow at least 75,000 refugees to be admitted to the United States in 2019. The letter reconfirms the American Jewish community’s shared commitment to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The letter reads in part, “Our country has long been a leader in providing protection and assistance to those fleeing persecution and violence. In fact, the American Jewish community owes its existence to the times in our nation’s history when the U.S. welcomed refugees from all national and religious backgrounds. It is because of our history as refugees, our biblical commandment to “welcome the stranger,” and our longstanding involvement as a community in resettling and welcoming refugees, that we call on you now to give today’s refugees a chance to rebuild their lives in safety and freedom in the United States.”
The Administration must consult with Congress annually, and then establish the upcoming fiscal year’s refugee admissions level, also known as the Presidential Determination. This past year, the refugee admissions ceiling was set at 45,000, but because of administrative and policy changes to the resettlement program, we are not close to hitting this already historically low target. It is estimated that the U.S. will welcome around 20,000 refugees this fiscal year, which will be the lowest number of refugees this country has admitted since the formalization of the resettlement program in 1980. These stark numbers are a reminder of how high the stakes are for the future of refugee resettlement in this country.
Recently, HIAS and other refugee advocacy organizations organized 270 elected officials from across the country to sign a letter urging the President to allow more refugees to enter the U.S. this coming year. We are proud that 36 organizations have come together, in a way reminding us that the commandment to welcome the stranger is repeated 36 times in the Torah. HIAS will continue to speak out for more refugees to be allowed to come to this country in search of freedom and safety.
(Marielle Septien, HIAS)